Thursday, April 8th Acts 2:42-47

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

We’re talking this week about ways that we can incorporate the disciplines of Lent into our daily lives throughout the year. So far we have talked about the disciplines of prayer and listening to God through the Bible. Today the focus is on giving ourselves away.

Selfishness is a natural by-product of being human. We all have a primal urge to survive. When we feel ourselves threatened – emotionally as well as physically – our knee-jerk reaction is to take care of ourselves, to fight back, to run away. This tendency toward self-care, if not softened by compassion and trust, turns into selfishness.

Jesus recognized our need for self care and honored it. The center of his ethics of love includes self-care as he calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The way that Jesus combats selfishness is that he couples our need for self-care to expressing love by giving ourselves away.

The idyllic picture of the earliest Christian church portrayed in the second chapter of Acts is one marked by self giving. The mark of their fellowship was not only in what they received but also in what they gave. They shared their possessions. They gave their time in gathering for public worship in the temple and private worship in their homes.

You can see how their lives were infused with an attitude of gratitude. Their giving was a freely chosen response to God’s love.

The fast paced consumer mentality of our age tells us we want what we want when we want it. When that selfish stance toward life comes into our spirituality, we end up focusing only on what we are receiving with hardly a thought to what we are giving. Such a stance is childish and immature.

Christianity is a team sport. It is a communal faith. It is not only about a personal relationship with God but also about a network of personal relationships with other Christians. We express our common faith through giving ourselves to one another – sharing our possessions, giving of our financial resources, giving of our time, showing up for worship, supporting and encouraging one another through the difficulties of life.

During Lent, many people practice various forms of self-denial. One reason for that discipline is what it teaches us about our radical dependence on God. Another reason is what it teaches us about the power of letting go and giving away. This attitude of giving can become more than a Lenten discipline.

Where is the focus of your faith? When it comes to your participation in a local congregation and the practice of your faith on a daily basis – are you a person concerned mainly with getting your own needs met, with what is in it for you? Or do you focus yourself on what you can give to others out of your own abilities and resources?

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, there is a fine line between taking care of ourselves in a healthy way and mere selfishness. During the season of Lent, our focus on discipleship teaches us about the self giving nature of your love. We know that such self giving is a mark of a healthy, mature, faith…keep us walking on that path toward maturity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 Responses to “Thursday, April 8th Acts 2:42-47”

  1. Robin Thomas Says:

    Today you hit home.

  2. Julie Starks Says:

    This WEEK you are hitting home (as you do so often).

    I appreciate putting the tenets of our Christian faith into action. It is a faith to be practiced through prayer, reading and giving to others. And all of these do feed us and strengthen us.

  3. Meg Finerty Says:

    I used to think that what I do and how I behave was the most important and lasting legacy. The more I experience, the more I realize that relationships are more important and that how I respond to those relationships with my attitude is even more important. Thanks for this devotion, which emphasizes that we need one another, and cannot live in isolation, especially as Christians. Shalom.

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