Soldiers in the US Army are expected to live by seven values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. And new recruits are also expected to abide by all of these values—not just the ones they agree with. A private can’t say to a commander, “I like all of these values . . . except duty. I don’t want to do that.” I imagine that would result in a whole lot of push-ups!
Today’s passage provides us with a description of the values and characteristics of the first church. What makes this church so remarkable is its connection to Pentecost—it was birthed directly from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4,38). Because of this, the Acts 2 church remains a powerful inspiration for faith communities to this day.
Many of the characteristics of the early church are well known to us and still inform our church practices: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. But there’s one quality of the early church we often overlook or even consciously try to push away: radical generosity. Members of the church were willing to sell their possessions and even homes to provide for one another (Acts 2:45). They “shared their meals with great joy and generosity” (Acts 2:46). This generosity was no less a product of the Spirit than the other characteristics of the early church we more readily embrace.
If we truly desire to be a faith community empowered by the Holy Spirit, then we must also submit when the Spirit leads us toward lavish giving. Although a costly discipline, generosity reflects our trust in the provision of God as well as our sacrificial love for one another. Because of the Spirit, we can reflect God’s generous heart.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Jeremiah 38:1-13
Read Psalm 41:1-3 and consider what God promises those who are generous to people in need.
Where do you sense the Holy Spirit might be leading you to be more generous? To whom can you share your life and resources with this week?