Someone asked Willey Sutton, who was a notorious bank robber, why he robbed so many banks. He replied, “Because that is where the money is!” I appreciate Willey’s honesty that he would rob banks because that is where the money is. Money was his driving influence for life, yet too often we make major decisions in our lives with the same motivation; where we work, how much time we put into our jobs, who are our friends, what our hobbies are. Why, because that is where the money is. Wherever the money is that is where we tend to follow.
The 1st Century writer, Luke, takes a special interest in the topic of the Christian and money. Luke is the Gospel writer who takes the most notice of the humble beginnings of Jesus’ life; that when God took on human form He planted His Son in a family that was very poor so that Jesus would be born, for instance, in a manger and then when Mary, His mother, would go to the temple for the rights of purification, her sacrifice was the sacrifice of a poor family. It was the sacrifice of a couple of doves rather than a lamb because they could not afford it.
Luke also notices the extravagance of the sinful woman’s offering, that this sinful woman, perhaps a prostitute, poured out this alabaster jar of perfume upon Jesus’ feet. It was a very costly jar and she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears out of gratitude for the great forgiveness that she found in her Savior.
Luke delights in the telling of many of Jesus’ parables, but particularly those that have to do with money. For instance, in the parable of the soils, Jesus describes money as thorns that choke the life from the Word of God out of the person if those thorns are allowed to grow. In the parable of the rich fool, perhaps you remember that one will, he was the man who gained the whole world and he built bigger barns, but in the process he lost his own soul.
That is how it is with anyone who stores up these things for themselves that is not rich toward God, Luke records Jesus saying. Luke is the Gospel writer who records the rich man suffering in Hell while Lazarus, the man who is the poorest of poor in this life, when he died he entered into the comforts of Abraham’s bosom. Luke is the one who describes the transformation of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, when he was a man who was made new through faith in Jesus. Zacchaeus said (Luke 19:8),
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Luke, of course, did not look past the two small copper coins that the widow put in the offering plate. He records Jesus as saying (Luke 21:3-4):
“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Indeed, Luke’s Gospel takes great interest in the idea that following Jesus radically transforms our purpose in life. It radically transforms our pursuit of money and our use of money, so it should not surprise us, when we come to this history that Luke writes in the early church in the Book of Acts, that this theme continues on, the theme of the Christian and money.
In Acts 2:44-45, we remember from our earlier study, Luke recording the response of the church immediately after the Holy Spirit comes. It says,
44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Now, the church has had some weeks and months to continue to grow and it has grown into over 5,000 men, and including women and children the church has grown to some 15,000 people and have had the character of the church changed. Again, we turn to Acts 4:32-37, and the main idea in Luke describing the early church that is presented to us is this, Jesus creates a joyfully, generous people; that wherever Jesus touches a life He leaves a heart that is joyfully generous. This is not to say He leaves a giving people. There are many people throughout the world, of all stripes, who are giving people, but here He leaves a “joyfully, generous people;” a completely selfless people. This is one of the main family traits of the people of God.
As we explore this subject of the Christian and money and the Christian’s generosity, I want you to consider four facets: first, the basis of the Christian’s generosity. Second, we will look at the commitment of the Christian’s generosity. Third, we will observe the practice of Christian generosity. Fourth, we will look at the effects.
Let’s look at the basis of Christian generosity. How is it that authentic Christianity creates a generous heart? How does that come about? Perhaps Christians are generous because the pastor’s of Jesus’ church skillfully asked them to be generous. Perhaps the pastors pleaded with them and as a result of the pleading to become generous people and invest in their resources in God’s work, the people, as a result of such pleading become joyfully generous at heart. No, that is not how the Bible describes it.
Perhaps the people of God become joyfully generous because, particularly in our modern day, we have learned some strategies for capital campaigns and if we follow steps one through ten of a capital campaign as designed by the experts, then the people’s hearts necessarily will become generous because that is what happens when we follow steps one through ten. The answer from the Bible is: “No, that is not how we achieve generous hearts.” It is not as though there is something intrinsically wrong with a pastor encouraging people to give or having a capital campaign, but I do believe that it is a shame for the church of Jesus Christ is more known to this world for invitations to give money than she is for invitations to receive God’s grace and to receive God’s Gospel.
We, as a people, are about the free offer of the gift of God; we are the stewards of His Gospel and that must become the center of the heart so that the world, when it considers the church of Jesus Christ, will say, “They are the group of people who invited us to receive the grace of God,” as opposed to, “Those are the people who are always asking for money.”
As a caution, a church can become just as much a lover of money as an individual Christian can, and while it is appropriate and essential for the church to teach all of God’s Word about all of the subjects, it is essential for the church to teach God’s Truth about money and giving. The motivation for such teaching is never to reach a certain monetary goal, but the motivation of such teaching is that there would be created through the Word of God, by God’s grace, a people who are set apart for God and zealous for His glory and zealous for His name to be exulted throughout this world. Spiritual leaders must avoid, at all costs, thinking of people as giving units. God provides sheep within His flock, people to His church, and these are to be loved and cared for. That is the heart of the Christian churches ministry.
What is it that creates generous hearts? It is not a pastor’ pleading. It is not a strategic capital campaign. Verse 32 gives us insight:
All the believers were one in heart and mind.
The New King James Version, I believe, is more accurate in this translation. It says,
Now the multitude of those who believed…
The New International Version makes the word “believer” into a noun when it really has a verbal form, “those who believed,” focuses upon the action of believing and this, brothers and sisters, is where the transformation begins. It is at that moment of authentic faith, that action of believing in Jesus Christ in which a person receives the salvation of God, the power of God to save them and to change them, the natural consequences of believing in this Jesus is always a changed heart and a changed life. The moment that these early Christians believed in Jesus, certain changes necessarily began and immediately took place in their hearts.
What were those changes? We can list over a hundred of them, but as we observe Acts 3 and Acts 4, let’s consider a few of these changes. First, one of the huge changes is that these people who believed in Jesus had the record of their sins completely cancelled and stricken. Look at Acts 3:19:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…
That is to say that their sins might be “erased” so that there is no more record of sins. Gone is the guilt. Gone is the condemnation for all those who place their faith in Jesus. Immediately this change takes place from being a condemned criminal and sinner before God to now being declared by Jesus Christ as one who is faultless to stand before Him.
Another change that takes place is that a refreshing, new relationship with God has begun, as we read in Verse 19, that as they repented and as they believed,
…times of refreshing may come from the Lord…
This refreshing, new relationship with God is established so that now, those who were enemies of God will have peace with Him.
Another change that takes places is, that immediately upon believing, a person is indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit and has a possibility of living a life that is continually filled, dominated, controlled, and empowered by God’s Spirit. We see that in Verse 31:
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Immediately a believer is provided with the necessary power to overcome temptation and to overcome sin. Immediately a believer is released from the enslavement of sin and given the possibility of living in the freedom of obedience.
Another change that takes place, and we look at the text in Verse 32, is that there is a change in the relationship of our connection with each other so that there is a supernatural love that glues brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a unity that is established so that all of the believers were “of one heart and one mind.” The King James Version describes the unity as being of “one soul.”
Finally, this change that takes place is in reference to the things of this world. Immediately, when a believer is born again and receives the life of God, money and the love of this physical world is removed as being “god”. Up to this point, all men and women, before Christ, are underneath the dominion of darkness, a darkness that is bound of the things of this world. But, now we are liberated, as it reads in Verse 32:
No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
One of the changes that takes place is that there is this rich generosity that rises up in the hearts of those who are redeemed. This Gospel that is provided and explained for us in this record of revelation is a Gospel that brings a full salvation, a salvation that encompasses every detail of life. This salvation is offered to everyone who would believe it.
John Piper, in commenting on Acts 4:32, says that there are two effects that take place in the hearts of believers that is described here. He says, “The heart is loosed in relation to things and tightened in relationship to people. That is what happens when there is genuine salvation; our heart becomes free from the attachment to the things of this world and it becomes bonded to people, particularly people who share a common salvation with us so that we love people more and we love money less. This is what happens.
Some may say, “Pastor, I really do desire to have a joyfully, generous heart, a heart from the love of things, free from the tyranny of the pursuit of more. I am tired of being on that treadmill.” Here is God’s answer for you: believe in the Gospel, believe in Jesus Christ, and cling to Him as your Savior, as One who continues to save you from sin itself, its penalty, and its power. There is no four-step, self-help program that the Bible recommends to become generous. The Bible says that the very root of the problem is not something that you can overcome on your own. The root of the problem is that your heart is rebellious and is by its nature selfish and self-seeking. That is the Bible’s condemnation of the natural man’s heart, so as a result, we can’t change our hearts anymore than we can change our personality or our looks.
God has provided for us a change that is not just cosmetic, not just external, but a change that is deep; a change that results in the transformation of our very nature, who we are, how we think, what we value, and what we love. The Good News is that all of that is found in Jesus Christ. Some will protest, “I have already trusted in Jesus Christ and I still have this problem being bound to things of this world. I still have a love of money in my heart.” The problem is not answered by self-help and by striving. The problem is answered by coming back to God’s grace in the Gospel; by coming back each day to recognize, “What I need is Jesus Christ so that I might progress in holiness, so that I might progress in my conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. Jesus is a generous God and if I place my faith in Him, the power of the resurrection of Christ through the Gospel is available to me as I cling to Jesus in faith. That power, as I cling to Christ, becomes not only available, but it becomes active in my life so as to change me from the inside out.”
We can’t change ourselves from the outside in, but the Gospel changes us from the inside out. That is why we read in Verse 12:
12”Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Psalm 118:22)
We are so thrilled because there is salvation and that salvation is not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but salvation brings freedom from the power of our sins so that we can fight against the practice of sin in our lives. In this way a spirit of generosity is one of the tests of our spiritual health and whether we rise up each day and say, “I am believing in this Gospel. I am reduced to a humble sinner, but then God raises me up to be with Him through the power of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.” This becomes a test and becomes a symptom for us whether or not we are clinging to the Gospel daily or whether or not we are clinging to our own strength and our own resources.
When Zacchaeus believed, the Bible says he committed half of his possessions to the poor. Isn’t that rather radical? Think about that! Think of Zacchaeus being a real person and imagine that he is living in these days and he is your next door neighbor. Can you imagine someone giving half of their possessions to the poor? Can you imagine you giving half of all that you own today to the poor? Zacchaeus was a tax collector and wronging people was his business. That is what tax collectors did and that is why they were so despised. He said, “If I have wronged anyone I am going to pay back four times the amount.” The implication here is that he had wrong some.
A work of conscience could say, “I will pay back. I am willing to make restitution.” That is not where the Gospel brings us. It brings us to this radical generosity and causes us to say, “I am going to pay back four times what I have cheated them out of so that they will even rejoice that they were once cheated.”
Jesus, upon hearing Zacchaeus’ declaration, said (Luke 19:9),
“Today salvation ahs come to this house…”
What is Jesus saying here? Is Jesus saying, “Zacchaeus, you have purchased your way into heaven because you have committed half of your possessions and because you are willing to pay back four times the amount of what you cheated, I am going to give you salvation in return for that cost.” That is not at all what Jesus is saying. What Jesus is saying as he is looking around the room, is, “Look at him, can’t you see, today salvation has come to this house because nothing else would cause Zacchaeus to act the way he is acting.” The truth of the matter is, this is what salvation consistently does in the life of a believer. This is not unusual.
When we find in our own hearts and in our own lives that this is not true of us, it is a symptom. When we go to the doctor and he asks, “Where does it hurt?” and we aren’t sure because it is a general pain, he starts poking on us until the doctor finds the place where it hurts. One of two things has happened: one, the doctor has poked too hard and it is going to hurt any healthy body. Most likely, we are hurting in a place that shouldn’t hurt and the doctor decides to run some tests because where he poked shouldn’t hurt that bad.
When we some to the Scriptures in regards to money, some may ask, “Why do you preach about money?” The word “money” occurs two times in the reading and we can’t avoid it, but when we come to the Scriptures teaching about money and the Holy Spirit prods, we discover that hurts. The Bible says that as a redeemed person that is not supposed to hurt, and perhaps, there is some attention that needs to be given so that God can bring healing and help to a place that is not supposed to hurt.
What is the basis of our generosity? It is our salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. That is what makes us generous.
The commitment of generosity is stewardship. At the end of Verse 32, we read,
No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
If the people did not lay claim to any of their possessions, who owned them? The answer is: God did. It is important to know that this is not going on to say that they actually sold everything, but they were willing to give up everything. Later we will see that the church will meet in certain people’s houses, so we know that Christian’s owned home, but here it says that they didn’t lay claim to them as their own. If the Lord asked them to sell, they were willing and ready to, even as we see some did later in this text. Their commitment was to stewardship: “I am affirming that God owns everything in this world and that I lay proprietary authority over nothing at all.”
In Psalm 24:1 we read,
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…
That encompasses quite a bit, does it not. Again, in Psalm 50, Asaph is going to record of God,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
How much is God’s? Everything! The commitment of generosity is one of stewardship, of recognizing that we don’t own anything and God’s owns everything and He has called us to be wise stewards of that which He has entrusted to our care. Someone may ask, “What kind of house do you own?” “I don’t own a house.” “That is kind of odd. What kind of car do you own?” “I don’t own one.” “What about your retirement account?” “I don’t own one of those.” “What about cd’s, collectables, sports equipment, electronic equipment, clothes?” “Nope, no, no, no, no, and no. I don’t own any of those things.” “How is that?” “God owns it all.” That is the response of the Christian and it must be an active response that we affirm daily.
In Acts there are two ways that the early Christians revealed their commitments to stewardship. The first was in their faithfulness to the message of the Gospel. God not only makes us stewards over material things, but first and foremost He provides for us a stewardship over the Spiritual Truths and Treasures, and the greatest treasure we have in all of life is this Gospel. We have been entrusted with the Gospel; to be faithful to it, to proclaim it, to share it, and to let others know about what God has done in Jesus Christ. In Verse 33, we read that the apostles continued to grow in their faithfulness to proclaiming the message, but also to their faithfulness to their money, as we read in Verse 34,
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them…
This didn’t happen to every piece of property and every house, but from time-to-time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostle’s feet.
In the Christian faith, these two areas of stewardship are always to be linked together. It is not enough for a church to tend to the physical needs of the poor, to home those who are without shelter, to feed those who are hungry, to give clothes to those who have none, and to help the downcast. It is not enough “just” to do that. We must also provide for them what their soul needs – the Gospel itself. Contrary, it is also not enough for us to merely give people the Gospel and let them suffer physically and when there is a great need that we could attend to. While the proclamation of the Gospel is the first priority because it attends to the need of the soul, which is eternal, but the needs of the body, also, are also evidently to be provide for as God gives an example of this all throughout Scripture. Our stewardship of the Gospel must not be divorced from a physical generosity. That is why it is a delight that this church, a couple of weeks ago, collected $5,800.00 in an offering for the relief of those who were victims in the tsunami in Central Asia. The Christian response to that is one of generosity, but while giving physical comfort and the money going to help those in physical need, the Christian also asks, “How can we combine physical needs with a desire to make inroads with the Gospel and a desire for Jesus’ name to be exulted as well?”
Listening to Marty Shaw, our missionary with CB International who oversees that region of Asia and this fund as well and how it is used, he says that the Indonesians who were devastated by this tsunami are asking two questions. The first question they ask is, “How has Allah allowed us to be hit by this disaster when we are so faithful to him?” That area of Indonesia is the most Muslim of Muslim areas. It is the radical Islamic stronghold. The second question they are asking is, “Why is it that it is the Christians who are coming to help us?” They can’t understand that. The answer as to why Christians are coming to help the most radical area of Muslims is because the Gospel transforms the heart of the Christian to be generous to all of the people of this world.
The commitment to stewardship is best taught in Luke 16. Luke seems to have a special interest in this view of the Christian and money. Here he records Jesus’ words following the parable of the shrewd manager and here Jesus states the principles:
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
That is the principle. God says, “This is somewhat of a test for how you are going to be entrusted with the stewardship of eternity.” We are not just going to be in Heaven strumming on harps. There is purpose and meaning in Heaven. I don’t know all of the details and we see through a glass darkly, so we don’t see real clearly, but I do know that just as it is joyful for us to carryout big responsibilities and to feel as though we are making an impact, it is going to be exponentially so in the world to come. How we use our money here affects the responsibility that we will be given in regards to true riches.
Furthermore, Jesus goes on to say, in Verse 13:
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
We cannot serve these two gods at the same time. The love of money, in the Scripture, is presented to us as a key obstacle to the spiritual life. Everything that we are faithful with in this world, the material things, those are the things that we keep and are permanent in our lives, and those things that we are unfaithful with, as far as stewardship is concerned, are the things we will loose.
Martin Luther said, “I have tried to keep things in my hands and have lost them all. But what I have given into God’s hands I still possess.” That is very true. Have you affirmed God’s ownership over all of your possessions? That is a key question that each one of us must address in our lives. We will never know the joy of generosity until we do and until we recognize, “I don’t own anything.”
The basis of generosity is salvation. The commitment of joyful generosity is stewardship. We move to the practice, and this is where the principles become life and they take on flesh and bone, is the practice of sacrificial giving.
There are two practices that stand out. First, the early Christians joyfully gave beyond what may be called the “hurting point”. Only the Gospel can cause a person to voluntarily and willingly give to that level. This is to say, these believers gave until it hurt and then they asked if they could give some more, and then they did. Note the extraordinary measures they took in their giving in Verse 34,
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…
Luke doesn’t want us to only consider this from an abstract principle point of view, so he gives us a real-life illustration in Verse 36 and 37,
36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
John Calvin writes, in his commentary, “We must have hearts that are harder than iron if we are not moved at the reading of this narrative.” In those days, the believers gave abundantly of what was their own. We, in our day, are content, not just jealously, to retain what we possess, but to callously rob others. They sold their own possessions in those days; in our day the lust to purchase is that which reigns supreme. At that time love made each man’s own possessions common property for those in need; in our day such is the inhumanity of many who begrudge the poor a common dwelling upon the earth.
It is important, as we observe this, to note the voluntary nature of this giving. No one is forced and no one in coerced. In fact, in Chapter 5 we will see that Peter tells Ananias, “You didn’t have to give the property at all.” There is no coercion. This is not some form of Christian communism, but what there is is a transformation of the heart. The heart says, “I see the needs of the people around me and I have this field and I can sell it.” Isn’t that a radical thing? Can you imagine taking something that is very valuable to you, like a house or a piece of property? Understand, a house or a piece of property is no less valuable to the person in the 1st Century than it is to us today. We say, “They did that back then because that is what people did.” No, that is not what people did. People didn’t do that anymore than they do today. They sold their house and they sold a piece of property that they had a dream of building their retirement home upon. They sold it. Why? It is God’s and God has liberated our hearts so that we don’t have to hold onto it anymore. He liberated us so that it can be joyfully used as God intends, however that is. If it is to build a retirement home, fine, but if it is also to give it that will be fine as well. It doesn’t really matter to us. It is an open hand.
In 2 Corinthians 8, we see another example of this kind of sacrifice. The resources in the Jerusalem church were now completely depleted and they needed to rely on Christians from around the world to help them in their distress.
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
They had taken an offering for the saints in Jerusalem, people whom they had never seen, and they gave up to their ability and beyond. What does that mean? It means that they did away with even some of the necessities. Maybe they fasted a day so they could give that money to the saints in Jerusalem. Then Paul says, “they pleaded with us.” They are not very wealthy and they are doing away with some of their own necessities, and Paul is telling them not to give anymore, but they continue to plead, “let us give some more”. Paul is telling them not to give anymore because they are going to wind up hurting themselves, but they want to continue to give. What would cause a heart to have such sacrifice? There is only one thing: the Gospel that completely freed them from this world and it lashed them to Heaven itself.
Juan Carlos Ortiz writes a modern example of that of a church in Buenos Aires. He was teaching the saints about God’s principles and about the Christian and money. He said, “Many members following that time of discipleship brought the titles of their homes and their apartments to give to the church. The leaders didn’t know what to do with this money. After six months of praying about this, they called the people and told them that they had decided to give back everyone’s real estate deed. They said, ‘The Lord showed us that He doesn’t want your empty houses. He was a house with you inside, taking care of it. He wants everything ready for Him. He wants your car with you as the driver.’ But then they added, ‘Just remember though, that all still belongs to Him.’” Ortiz says that all houses are open now so that when visitors come to the congregation, they don’t say, “Who can take these brothers into your house? We don’t ask, we command because the house has already been given to the Lord.” I think it is still nice to ask! Isn’t that a great spirit to say, “It is not up to me if this visitor should be at my house or not. It is God’s house. God, what do you want?”
Sacrifice is wrought in the heart and it is transformed by Jesus Christ and it is truly stunning. Nothing else will change a heart that way.
Have I given to the point of sacrifice? Each one of us has to ask that question and we have to ask it with individual concerns. Are we giving to the point of sacrifice?
They also gave to a central fund. Acts 4 says that three times they laid this fund at the apostle’s feet. The apostles were then responsible to distribute the fund. This is not a rule or law, but it is a good practice. Of course, it is good to give directly to a poor and needy person, but it is better, according to Scripture, to give to a central fund through the church of Jesus Christ. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons.
First, it places the emphasis upon the glory of Jesus as opposed to the glory of the individual giver, so that when the church provides for one who is poor, that person who is poor can say, “Glory to God and glory to Jesus Christ.” The church that represents Jesus is providing the need as opposed to glory to an individual.
Secondly, it causes us as believers to have a sense of unity as we are bonding together in this work; that we are not individually out there trying to help, but that we are together as the one church of Jesus Christ.
Finally, it acts as a protection from emotional appeals or from fraud so that the church can step back away from the emotional constraints of the need and be able to seek the Lord and wisely distribute those resources.
The last thing we are going to discuss is the effects of generosity. The first effect we see in Verse 32 is that the church is unified in that they were one in heart, in soul, and in mind. This is both a cause and effect. By being one heart they wanted to share with each other in this great opportunity to meet one another’s needs. But, as they gave they had a greater sense of unity. It is hard to fight, quarrel, and divide with people whom you know are willing to sell their car in order to meet your need. Wouldn’t it be hard to fight with someone you know that has the commitment that they would sell their house in order to see that you had your needs met? Isn’t that a unifying thing? Of course it is.
The name of Jesus was exulted as the Gospel went out. Here again, their lives of generosity became a living illustration so that, as the apostles say, in Verse 33,
With great power the apostles continued to testify…
As the world looked at the church, they saw a consistency between the church’s message and the church’s life and the needs of the people were met. Verse 34 says,
There were no needy persons among them.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
The last effect of their generosity is that God was glorified. This was a church that people looked at and gave praise to God because the change could not be explained through any other human means.
I want to close with the encouragement that Paul gives to Timothy, in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, in regards to money:
9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Does that describe your life? That is not the description of one who is being conformed into the image of Jesus. Some will say, “That might be true for many people who want to get rich, but I am going to be able to avoid that ruin.” We don’t know what is going to pop up from that love.
Brother, won’t you, with me, humble yourself before God and ask God to provide you with a joyfully, generous heart?