Generosity and the Gospel     

"Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,"  Acts 4:34

This passage in Luke is called the Nazarene Manifesto, and is a statement Jesus made at the beginning of His ministry, soon after His baptism and temptation in the wilderness. The statement was made in the synagogue in Nazareth and hence the name. It was a declaration by Jesus of what He was going to do during His ministry.

Many understand this passage spiritually taking it to refer to the spiritually poor, and the spiritually blind. But the subsequent sections of Luke chapter 4 and 5 would seem to indicate that Jesus meant this literally as well. We see Jesus casting out an evil spirit (Luke 4:31-37), healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39), healing and casting out spirits (Luke 4:40-41), preaching the gospel (Luke 4:42-44), directing Peter where to catch fish (Luke 5:1-11), healing a leper (Luke 5:12-16), forgiving sin and healing (Luke 5:17-26) and teaching (Luke 5:30-39). Thus, we can see that Jesus addressed all kinds of issues – spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological.

Similarly, in Matthew 11:1-5, when John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah, He told them to to tell John the Baptist what they had seen and heard – the blind received sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised up and the poor had the gospel preached to them. Everyone received a visible solution to their problems that John’s disciples could go back and report about. That obviously means that the gospel also was a visible solution to the needs of the poor, not just a spiritual one.

There are three ways in which the gospel is a solution to the poor. Firstly, it causes them to give up bad habits and to stop wasting resources. Secondly, when they turn to God, He blesses whatever they do. But, for those trapped in structures of poverty, these two solutions alone are often inadequate. For them, the third way is required, where Jesus changes the heart of the rich and makes them willing to share with the poor. 

We see this lived out in the early church in Acts 4:34-35. This principle is also emphasized right through the New Testament – John 13:35, Ephesians 4:28 etc. The gospel makes people generous.

How many people have been blessed in their life because of their interaction with you?