Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: ~Acts 11:29
Americans gave almost $428 billion to charity in 2018. This group includes foundations and very wealthy individuals. When we look at giving to churches, the average Christian in America gives 2.5% of his income to his church. Only 10%-25% of regular attendees actually tithe 10%. These statistics are alarming and should cause all of us to carefully evaluate if our giving is according to God’s requirements. This morning, let us consider an inspirational example of giving according to one’s ability.
We see a dearth.
There was a great dearth in the world. This means there was a famine resulting in food shortages and unemployment. Our world is in the midst of a major pandemic. This morning, I read that 39 million Americans are unemployed. When an economic crisis occurs, we tend to hunker down and do aggressive cost cutting or cost elimination. People start to reduce, and even eliminate, giving. For some who are unaffected by the crisis, they use the crisis as a reason to stop giving. We must remember that the command to be a cheerful giver is regardless of the economy. A financial crisis is allowed by God to bring out the best or the worst in us.
We see the disciples.
The focus shifts from a dearth in the world to the disciples at Antioch. The church at Antioch was experiencing revival fires: people were getting saved, disciples were being made, and a vibrant church was growing and making a difference. There is a distinction from being a Christian and being a disciple. Disciples are committed. Disciples count the cost. Disciples are the ones who arrive early and are the last ones to leave. Disciples make sacrifices and do so quietly. Disciples make a difference in the lives of other people.
We see the donation.
These disciples, every man according to his ability, gave a financial gift to help the brethren in Judaea. First, the giving was personal: every man. Second, the giving was proportional: according to every man’s ability. There was not so much equal giving as there was equal sacrifice. Third, the giving was prompt. There was not a long, dragged out giving campaign. The need was presented and every man participated. Fourth, the giving was plenteous. It was substantial enough that the church sent two men to deliver it to the needy brethren at Jerusalem. Fifth, the giving was pleasing. God was pleased with the collective participation of this relatively young church. They learned that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
We see the designation.
The gift was to provide financial relief to the brethren at Jerusalem. There was family in this. The church at Antioch saw the needy believers as family and not just needy brethren. There was faith in the designation. They knew that the world was in a dearth, but they had faith that God would take care of them as they took care of the brethren. There was foresight in the gift. They looked past selfish concerns about the present and saw their gift as being able to help sustain the churches in Judaea.
All of us are blessed of God. Like the disciples at Antioch, we must make our giving according to our ability. Our baseline is the tithe, but as God has blessed us, even so we should give, and it shall be given unto us.
Have a generous God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Nehemiah 8-9