Ask and Accept, Believe and Be Bold, Call on Christ, Delightfully Do, Eagerly Exclaim, Forgiven to Forgive…Go and Give with Gladness.
Go and Give with Gladness? Synopsis of Acts 5:1-11.
The book of Acts speaks about the formation of the early church. Believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and the church was alive with eagerness and excitement in coming together as a unified body. Many gave freely of their possessions to meet the needs of others. It was a powerful, beautiful time in biblical history. However, one man named Ananias, along with his wife Sapphira, only pretended to be part of this unity. Like others, they sold their land to benefit the church; but instead of giving with gladness, they secretly kept back some of the money they made from the sale. They were not only lying to the church members and the church leaders, but more dangerously, they were lying to the Holy Spirit. Their lack of trust in the Lord, as well as their deception, brought about their untimely demise.
Go and Give with Gladness! Synopsis of Acts 4:32-37.
However, in the same church body that Ananias and Sapphira were a part of, there was a man named Barnabas. Not by coincidence, his name means Son of Encouragement. He, being filled with the Holy Spirit, was given the gift of compassion towards the poor. His heart was pure in his motives and he was always willing to go and give to the downtrodden. In fact, Barnabas made the decision to sell his tract of land and give all the collected money to the church. His cheerful heart and his monetary gift blessed all those around him.
When looking at these two contrasting stories, here are a few questions:
Do I like to share?
Am I a cheerful giver?
Am I willing to grow in this area when convicted by the Lord?
In the Bible stories above, I don’t think the Lord was concerned by the amount of money that these individuals gave (or withheld) from the church. He was, and always is, peering into the heart of the individual. Our heart is the center of our worship, so making a heart-decision to give something freely is first of all, a sacrificial act to the Lord, that He, in turn, uses to bless others. He can take any gift of any kind and multiply it in any way He chooses. (Another Bible story: think of the little boy's five loaves two fish that Jesus divided among thousands on the hillside. God can do anything with our faith-filled gifts of the heart.)
What do you have to give today? Time? Money? Encouragement? A helping hand? Trust the Lord fully, respond to the Holy Spirit’s nudging; don’t hold back something that God is asking you to give in order to bless others. Go, and give with gladness. Be assured that He smiles on your act of worship. No telling how He will multiply your gift among those who need it.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13
Help us to not view praying as a waste of our precious time. On the contrary, may we humbly realize that prayer multiplies our time because when we lift our requests to you, you do things more powerfully and efficiently than we could ever do on our own. The extra blessing is that we gain peace in our hearts and minds. So today Lord, with thanksgiving, we will take time to pray...Amen.