"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." Acts 4:32-35
I read these verses yesterday and it just gave me so much encouragement. Just picture living in this scenario! Picture a life where absolutely everything you could possibly need is there when you need it, and that anyone who does need something, that need is immediately provided for. Imagine putting this into today's day and age. Picture a neighborhood, a standard small town block, let's say. Everyone has their own homes, their living spaces, and their yards. But the mentality is that what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine. Three lawn mowers are shared amongst the 15 houses, and no one complains about it. When one person needs to use one of the charcoal grills, another person is offering up some charcoal to use it. When it's fall, everyone helps rake everyone else's yards. The kids all play together, sharing all the time, and just safely going from yard to yard, where different adults keep an eye on them, with no concern about the interruption in their day. Perhaps this scenario is a little Utopian, but is it really? Because this is exactly what I picture when I read these verses.
I see no need. I see that when the pantries are starting to dwindle, God places the desire on some one's heart to give to those people. And because their needs were fully taken care of, the believers could focus their attentions on witnessing and serving their communities- they didn't have to work 40 hours a week to pay bills, because there were no bills. They were completely taken care of.
For so long, it seems there has always been so much need in the church. There are always families struggling to make ends meet and feed and clothe their families. Why? Within the church, it seems we need to do a better job of taking care of each other. When we're having a bountiful season, we should be sharing with those who have little. And even when we're in a lean season, there are always people who have less. I wonder if we changed our mentality about what we do have, if we would have an easier time sharing it? Would it be easier to give someone a few dollars for their gas tank if we stopped thinking about our dollars as our own? If we really thought about how God provides all we need, and in that regard, that makes all the money we have, God's money, wouldn't that make it easier to share? If I look in my pantry and think that all those foodstuffs belong to God, I have to think that it would be easier to just clean it out and take it to a food pantry.
So maybe I'm going to try to start thinking that way. I want to stop keeping so much stuff. Honestly, I don't need six sets of dishes, many of which are stored away in totes. I need one, maybe two, but the rest can go to a family who has maybe lost theirs in a house fire. We certainly don't need to keep packing away anything, if I really think about it. I even think about things like candle holders. I don't burn candles, because fire frightens my children, yet I keep hanging on to boxes and boxes of candles and candle holders. Why? Because someday I might use them? What if my candle holders would bring real joy to someone who maybe enjoys candles, but can't afford to buy some? I think that for the most part Andy and I have really culled down a lot of the things we keep and store, but I think that we can do better. There is no reason to hang onto stuff, just for the sake of hanging on to it. Sure, down the road, I might be able to burn candles without my children being afraid, but you know what? When it comes to that point, even then, I don't need twenty different holders and a case of candles. May God help us to be more aware of what we have that we really don't need to have. And may he use what he has given us to bring joy to others.