Whenever I write a conclusion for a month, I honestly sit at my computer with a blank page and I give it the old pre-writing stare-down…for thirty minutes to an hour. We’ve already talked about nearly every aspect of generosity that there is, so what more can I have to say? Well, I want to take a second and address something that pertains to all of our articles, but particularly this topic.
There is a bridge, or at least there should be, between Scripture and our actions. Modern Christians are really great at reading blog articles and Bible verses and sharing them, using them as captions for our great devo time pictures that we post on Facebook (see how I just slammed everyone, including myself?). We thrive on application yet we cannot bring ourselves to apply it to our lives. We make excuses for EVERYTHING. Especially us teenagers. Generosity? I don’t have a job. Purity? I’m not dating yet. Respect? Oh, well you don’t understand my situation. Joy in suffering? You have no idea what I’m going through. That doesn’t apply to me. You know what? It’s time for us to stop making silly, fallacious excuses and to start taking action in our lives. Surely you have read a riveting challenge like this before and have felt a little fire start. You get all pumped up, like “Yeah, I’m actually going to change this time! I’m going to take action!” Maybe you even go so far as to implement a few changes in your life in response to this call-to-action (seriously, there actually are people that do that), but they usually only stick around for a few weeks.
Okay, so there’s my doom-and-gloom stereotyping. Now, how are we going to reverse that stereotype? How can we bridge the gap between these blog articles and our actions when so many other people have tried and failed? Let’s take a look at some people who faced this challenge and overcame it. Acts 2 came to mind when I was thinking about this article. In Acts 2, Peter gets up and preaches a phenomenal, very powerful sermon to this crowd who literally killed Jesus not very long before. At the end of his sermon, here’s what happened:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:41-47
Whoa. These people were the real deal, huh? They didn’t make excuses, they didn’t try to shove the blame or responsibility on another person. They took action. Of course, how could they not? I mean, there were signs and wonders and stuff being done there and everyone else was doing it, so it had to be easier. Remember, these people had murdered Jesus Christ in the most painful way just 2 months before! That kind of change is radical. They did not have it easy—if anything, they had it harder than we do.
So what can we learn from them? And how does this apply at all to our topic of generosity? Here are three things that I have learned from this passage of Scripture and how it applies to not only this topic, but all topics to come.
1. We need to be devoting ourselves to good solid teaching on the Word of God.
Without consistent exposure to God’s word, spiritual growth is extremely difficult. That is a staple, or should be, in the spiritual life of a growing Christian. Beyond that, it is very beneficial to our spiritual health to read books, listen to sermons, and have conversations about the Bible. When we hear theologically sound preaching from someone who has devoted their life to studying Scripture, it sort of enhances our reading and understanding of Scripture and how it applies to our life. Without some of this input, we will find it much harder to apply Scripture to our lives. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit is not sufficient to help us interpret the essential things in Scripture and apply them to our lives. What I mean by this is that by gaining the insight of our pastor or another pastor who has written a book, or even just another more mature Christian, we can get another perspective on a topic or passage and be better enabled to apply it to our lives.
2. We need to take immediate action.
Okay, maybe not everyone is quite like me, but personally I tend to read articles like the ones that we put out this month and I nod my head and agree that I should be more generous in all of these ways. Then I make my mistake—I don’t do anything right that instant. Eventually, it slips my mind or I lose the initial, passionate motivation that I had when I read the article or book. We need to stand up and take IMMEDIATE action. The people mentioned in Acts 2 began selling what they had, giving money to the poor, doing whatever they could. And it seems to me that they started doing this immediately after they heard Peter’s message. This is imperative to bridging the gap between Scripture and life.
3. We need to build this application into a habitual lifestyle.
These believers did all of these things “day by day”. They didn’t happen to be scrolling through their news feed, see an article about generosity, and then feel convicted and give $15 to the homeless man at the street corner. They habitually were giving away what they had, being generous, and making a huge impact.
Okay, one last comment or two. I want you to take a second and note the impact that these believers had on the people around them. Acts 2:47b says, “The Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”. God used the radical conversion of these Jews to impact hundreds and thousands of others around them. This kind of selfless love and fervent devotion was very contagious. Now, I have presented you with an odd mixture of seemingly random information that is supposed to fit together and form a coherent article (I can’t say whether or not it did just that)…the question is, what are you going to do about it? Pray about it and make your decision. Don’t just agree with what I’m saying. Take it one step further and put it into action.