The first church was growing rapidly, God was working miracles among them, and the Gospel was being boldly preached. As Acts, Chapter 4 vs 34 mentions they were “testifying to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and God’s grace was powerfully at work in them all”. The members of the church made sure that none of their fellow believers were left in need. Rather than keeping their income for themselves, the earliest Christians were investing heavily in God’s work. They were obeying Jesus’ command to store up treasure in Heaven, rather than on Earth.
What is remarkable about the generosity of the first church is that it was entirely voluntary, and it was so sacrificial. Their generosity was free and it was abundant. The first Church was like a family, everyone gave willingly and wholeheartedly. They gave freely and willingly to their fellow Christians because they viewed them as fellow family members – as brothers and sisters in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul reminds us, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving to the Church and to fellow Christians should be out of joy and compassion.
In verse 36, one man’s sacrificial giving is singled out for special mention: “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus would have approved of Barnabas’ sacrificial giving. We know the story of the generous widow. A woman who was commended by Christ because she gave all she had to the Temple treasury. Her coins weren’t worth much, but she gave what she had. The widow’s offering and the generosity of Barnabas show their generosity, compassion, and dependence on God.
One of the greatest things that God’s Spirit does in Christians is to change our hearts. He changes our hearts to help us love God, and he changes our hearts to help us love God’s people. As we grow in our Christian faith we should not be surprised if our love for our Christian brothers and sisters increases – it’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in us.