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September 13, 2015
“Sharing All Things”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
In certain areas of our country and in certain districts of my own state, school uniforms have been put in place in lieu students dressing according to their non-school apparel. This has been a seat of controversy for some time. There are those in favor of this concept stating that uniforms erase the line between the haves and haves not when it comes to fashion in the learning environment.
It stomps down the competitive nature that seems to arise out of dressing in the latest fashions and the most expensive gear, so to speak, and allows students a more uncluttered view of the educational process.
Others will say that individuality should be expressed and students should be allowed to dress as they and their parents see fit. They shouldn’t be penalized because some can’t and some can. It’s a hot topic to say the least with both sides making very valid points.
Then we have issues where electronic devices are superseding regular textbooks. Should students have shared devices or should parents who can afford it be able to buy their particular student their own, unshared device? After all, doesn’t that take off the burden of one more student from the school system, or is it too in and of itself fostering an environment of competition over the haves and the haves not? Shouldn’t every student feel they are afforded the same educational experiences when they come into the same building of their peers? It is up to each system to study their environment and find out what works best for the students enrolled in their particular school or district as a whole.
The issue of the haves and haves not is anything but new. There will always be those who can and those who can’t due to financial limitations. Knowing this, how should this affect the atmosphere of the local church?
One church in the New Testament took their giving campaign to the next level, so to speak. They went beyond just giving an offering, but they sold personal possessions to satisfy the great need of lack that was prevalent amongst its members at that time and this is their story and the story of a couple who only appeared generous on the outside but God knew the trueness of their heart.
Acts 4:34-35 “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
The book of Acts is a wonderful book for the modern day church to study. It is the history book of the New Testament. Within its chapters we see facts of what took place as the very first church got underway. We see its struggles, but we also see in it the togetherness and “singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46) the people had one for another.
This left a powerful witness to the world. So much so that the words used to describe this first church were all geared towards togetherness: fellowship, together, all things in common, one accord, and singleness of heart (Acts 2:42-47). Through their love for one another and their unified spirit, the “Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” (Acts 2:47).
After listing a notable miracle performed by Peter and John, and dealing with persecution within the church for the first time, Acts 4 (the focus of today’s text) moves us back to the activities that are going on within this new church and the heart of the people thereof. And, their heart is described as being of oneness (Acts 4:32). The care they had for one another caused them to experience a deeper connection for one another that went beyond just a regular church attendance and fellowship. This was a connection of “heart and soul” (Acts 4:32).
In any realm, when one connects with others on this level it involves his/her emotions. It makes the compassionate side of his/her human nature come alive until it answers the call to see the deficit in the one whom they love filled. And that’s what was going on in this church. A charitable spirit had risen among them as if they couldn’t bear to have while others had not. They didn’t want to see one another scrounging for lack, but each worked to put everybody on the same playing field so that they had “all things common,” (Acts 4:32).
This not only helped one another, but it also gave a power witness to the work “apostles” were doing there and “great grace was upon them all,” (Acts 4:33).
“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of things that were sold.” The line between the haves and the haves not had been erased in this first church. It may seem a foreign concept to most now, and even those within the modern church, but had their love and concerning spirit for one another and the mission really compelled them to make sure everybody was equally taken care of even if it means selling one’s owns possessions? The answer is and was, “Yes.”
It was a very unique time for the church, one of which many Bible students regard as an event that was limited to that particular time (for no other evidence in the New Testament supports giving to this same extreme extent). Nonetheless, it is a time recorded for many, including us, to learn from.
What can we learn from it? We may not have the best of things, but what we do have can fill a void in another’s life. The Apostle Paul taught at one point, “As ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also,” (2 Cor. 8:7). The grace he was referring to was “giving.”
He was in the process of securing a financial gift that would help others that were going through a time of lack. He urged the Corinthian church to supply for the saints out of their abundance that there be equality amongst the brethren, and vice versa, if they experienced a time of need and lack, then the same could be done for them out of the abundance of others.
Giving can act as a “proof of your love,” (2 Cor. 8:24). And this is what we see in this first church. They had a genuine spirit of compassion toward one another that would not let them settle with the idea of lack when they could help to remedy the situation.
So, they that were “possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of things that were sold. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet.” Many believe that these were not houses and such they were currently living in for that would have made them part of the problem of being in need instead of part of the solution to resolve the lack; rather, they were extra houses and lands that the possessors had and parted with that the financial gain would go to help their Christian brothers and sisters and erase the footprint of poverty among them.
However one views their giving, regardless of their current houses or not, the idea is they gave so that no one would lack. They “sold” what was in their right to keep and gave the money to the “apostles” to distribute “unto every man according as he had need.”
They gave that needs would be filled. It was their genuine love for one another at work that made them want to give up the extras of life to see ministry and the people therein flourishing.
Many people have a hard time with giving and may wonder how the members of this first church moved their line of thinking to give the way they gave. It appears they focused more on God and the needs of one another than on what they were giving up. They were more concerned about the commonality of love and fellowship than the possessions they had. This is a blessed place for anyone to start when contemplating their attitude toward giving.
Jesus taught, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself,” (Luke 10:27). When one loves in this manner the concept of “things” becomes less important than the expression of love toward God and man.
Here in our lesson, we see this love not just being taught or talked about; rather, we see it in living form. We see it alive in the history book of the Bible. We see it moved from concept to reality and put into action. It was not about what they could do (we hear a lot of talk all the time about what we “can” do), but what they did do. And, what they did do was give that needs might be filled.
Did not Jesus teach, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:33). God knows the needs of each and every one of us, and through the spirit of generosity needs in today’s lesson were filled through the giving campaign of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Acts 4:36-37 “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
One of the more notable characters active in this giving campaign was “Barnabas.” Barnabas had a very supportive nature about him not only in his giving but in his life. He was known as “the son of consolation” which also means “the son of encouragement.” He always sought to bring comfort to others be it through financial means as seen here in today’s lesson or through support of ministry as when he declared and testified of the conversion and the preaching the newly changed Saul did in Damascus to a hesitant group of apostles who didn’t quite believe such a change had taken place in such a life as his.
Barnabas’ name is scattered throughout the book of Acts and the New Testament and each time his name is associated with mostly positive movements such as when he was sent to Antioch to encourage the saints there (Acts 11) where he is also noted as being “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith,” (Acts 11:24). Barnabas also went to Tarsus to get Saul and worked with him in Antioch and in also delivering a gift of financial relief to the elders in the Jerusalem church, (Acts 11:30).
Barnabas and Saul (Paul) worked on many projects together, particularly in Antioch, until contention arose between them on whether one Mark should rejoin their expeditions who had previously abandoned them. From here Barnabas took Mark and traveled to Cyprus and Paul took Silas and traveled through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches there (Acts 15).
Outside of this incidence and the one where he followed Peter’s hypocrisy in not eating with the uncircumcised (Galatians 2:13), Barnabas remained a faithful witness of encouragement to those he helped and ministered to starting here in our lesson with the generous support he offered through his personal possessions: “Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Acts 5:1-10 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this think in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all of them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straight way at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.”
Now we move to the flip side of this giving campaign where we see seeds of greed and deceptions planted in the heart of a couple who thought they could pull the wool over God’s eyes. The Bible tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting,” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Yet, while everyone else was working toward the goal of operating with singleness of heart and giving to support those in need, this couple was operating with a joint heart of duplicity. They were being deceitful in their giving whilst everyone else was being true and sincere in what they were trying to do for God and for man.
They were frauds! They were fake financial supporters. They wanted to be known as being a great giver, perhaps as Barnabas or others were known, without the sacrifice.
The ironic thing is there was no need for them to be deceitful in the first place. The “possession” was theirs to do as they pleased with. The money they gained from it was theirs to do as they pleased with it. Their fault was in lying about their sacrifice to gain notoriety amongst the people.
The “Spirit of the Lord” alerted Peter to the fraudulent affair and the enemy behind its scheme: “Satan,” who is the “father of lies” (John 8:44).
Peter confronted “Ananias” with his sin, but God judged his sin causing him to die on the spot. Three hours later, Ananias’ wife “Sapphira” was presented with an opportunity to repent. Alas, she answered Peter deceitfully as well and died because of her own sin before God there that day.
“Lying lips are abomination to the LORD . . .” (Proverbs 12:22) and you can’t lie to God about what you have. Does not the Bible tell us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above . . .” (James 1:17)? They had what they had because God blessed them with it. They sold what they did because God gave them the increase off of it. They didn’t have to lie about it. It was theirs.
This giving campaign was voluntary. It was not forced. Why the need to lie? Because they wanted the status. What they did wasn’t from a heart of generosity but a heart of hypocrisy. And, God dealt with it Himself via the judgment they suffered.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Just whatever you do in sharing of what God has given you; make sure you have a true, sincere heart and motives behind it.
(Click here for PDF: Sharing All Things Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Sharing All Things Draw the Scene (Use PDF link for accurate printing)
How Many Words?: Sharing All Things How Many Words (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)
Below are more Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“God Sees Not as Man Sees Craft/Ananias and Sapphira” (This is a very simple craft that just about any age level can do that proves the point of this week’s lesson nicely. Have your students try it and they are sure to be amazed. Enjoy!)
“Ananias and Sapphira Lie to the Holy Spirit” (Here is lesson support, printable worksheets, crafts and activities to enhance this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Ananias and Sapphira Plan to Deceive” (Lesson activities, fill in the blank, and more. Enjoy!)
Honesty “I Will” Statements (Love this craft! It counteracts the lying nature of Ananias and Sapphira by getting students to focus on the positive aspects of honesty they themselves can do. Enjoy!)
“God Loves a Cheerful Giver Printable Offering Plate and Money” (Goes very nicely with this lesson. Enjoy!)
“God Loves a Cheerful Giver Printable Piggy Bank” (What a great way to introduce the idea of setting money aside to help others to children. Enjoy!)
“Teach Kids to Share with the Sharing Ball” (It all starts with teaching and training young hearts to share. In this “give me” culture, learning to share what one has doesn’t have to be a lost art. This is simple, but effective. Enjoy!)
“Amish Friendship Bread Instructions” (Because sometimes older students and adults need to be reminded of the need to share. I did this years ago and loved it. I think you will enjoy too.)