A harmonious life: Devotional Commentary for July 4-10
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
We recall from our last meditation how God honored the prayers of the Disciples and filled them with the Holy Spirit once again. They prayed with a united heart and preached the Gospel with courage and dedication. They gave little heed to the ban issued by the Sanhedrin and continued in Christian fellowship and service with great enthusiasm and power. They were sustained by God's Grace.
Their spiritual bonds surpassed their union in prayer and forged a mutually beneficial social and economic accord. They stood as one in prayer and service, and lived in harmony with each other. They were united in heart and soul. The harmony among them was actual and practical. They shared everything they had. They were selfless and put each other's needs before their own. They viewed their individual property as resource to resolve need-based difficulties within the community. That is as common property, in the interest of mutual assistance and common welfare.
33And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales
35and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
36Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement),
37and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Both the apostles and the rest of the believers were as one in spirit, service, and mutual support. The Grace of God abounded toward them in every aspect of their lives. They became secure, assured, courageous, and more harmonious in their thoughts and actions. They openly proclaimed their eyewitness account of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They declared what they saw and heard. They spoke without fear or hesitation. They were sustained and empowered by God's Grace, His infinite Grace. His Power was fully at work in them.
The hearts of God's people were changed. They were no longer selfish. They were indeed selfless. Their harmonious spirit was moved by God to be sensitive to the needs of others. Consequently, needs were amply supplied. God's people became God's source of abundance to God's needy people.
The miracle of God's love and care worked through the changed hearts of His people to provide for the needy. Those who were blessed with abundance sold their properties and brought the proceeds to the Apostles to supply the needs of the struggling among them. Everyone gave as one could and the needs of the poor were met as deemed necessary. Everyone recognized that whatever one owned was actually God's property fully subject to His sovereign Will and good pleasure.
These practices were neither obligatory nor inceptive of a new ordinance that must be observed. It was voluntary and sacrificial. One such example was set by a man named Joseph whom the Apostles fondly called Barnabas. Barnabas means an encourager or the son of encouragement. Joseph was a Levite born in Cyprus. He was caring and understanding. He sold a parcel of land he owned and brought the proceeds to the Disciples to be used in meeting the needs of others.
As the narrative in the book of Acts later depicts, Barnabas' character and goodwill were effectively reflected in the actions he took. He deprived himself to enrich others who lacked necessities. He walked alongside those who were discouraged. It was in this manner that the Disciples of the first century church were empowered by the Holy Spirit to live for the glory of God contrary to their own natural inclinations. They lived for God because God's Spirit lived in them.
As the Disciples drew closer to God in prayer and to one another in a harmonious love, they became bolder in their proclamation of the Gospel and in their testimony of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. They became stronger in their resistance against hostile forces and richer in Christian generosity toward one another. They became more gracious because they received more Grace.
The glorious presence of the Holy Spirit in them was mightily manifested through their courageous preaching of the Gospel and the harmony that was cultivated in their relationships with one another. The work of the Holy Spirit was unequivocally revealed through their words, actions, services, relationships, and transformed attitudes. It was indeed a Spirit-filled community, a Christian community. They were a close-knit community of believers individually and collectively devoted to the Great Commission entrusted to them by Jesus Christ. They were one in heart and soul. They flourished in Christian fellowship and in the solidarity of God's love.
This church in Jerusalem was a Spirit-filled assembly of believers. Their attitude was transformed and was markedly different from their natural inclinations. They selflessly shared everything they had. They restrained themselves from advancing self-seeking impulses. They practiced sacrificial giving. The needy had access to supplies that are proportionate to their situations. Theirs was a life that thrived in the solidarity of God's love.
These are men and women who are human just like us. They are sinners saved by Grace. The same Spirit Who seals all of God's redeemed children would manifest Himself in us as He did in them if and when, by His Power, we draw closer to God and submit ourselves to Him as they did. They heard the warnings and threats issued by the Sanhedrin, but heeded the voice of the Spirit of God and followed His instructions and guidance. They trusted. So can we. They prayed. So can we. They obeyed. So can we. They rested in Him. So can we by the Power of the Holy Spirit, just like them. The Spirit Who transformed the Disciples is knocking at our hearts' door looking for our responsive obedience so that we may honor Him with a surrendered life. What worked then is actively at work even now, because the Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever.