Sunday School Material 9-13-15: Sharing with Sincerity

(Acts 4:34-37; 5:1-10; 9/13/2015)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that the early church had people who gave with sincerity and some who gave with ungodly motives. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to make sure that we give with godly motives.

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Read Acts 4:34-37

I. Sincere Givers. Luke talks about how there were no needy people/believers. It was not strange for people to sell their property and placed the money under the direction of the Apostles.

The people in the Sunday School material thought that Jesus was coming back in their life time, and this played a great role in their selling of property. Joseph/Barnabas is one who sold his field and placed the money at the Apostles’ feet.

Applications –

- No needy people. Notice in vs. 34 that a description of what was going on is given. First, description doesn’t always mean prescription. In other words, the fact that they did it (description) doesn’t mean that we are to do it (prescription).

Think about how the early church started off worshipping and praying in the Temple area – description, not prescription. Those who cannot even tithe should be glad that we are not also called to sell our property.

Second, our church along with many others have a benevolent fund (some used to call it the poor saints fund). This fund is to help especially members of the church with one time emergency expenses.

However, the norm of our day is that members would work on being wise stewards of their resources. Wise stewardship is a better way to avoid being in need than you counting on the church’s benevolent fund. 

Let’s work on being benevolent, when needed, and a wise steward of our resources.

- The Apostles’ feet. Notice in vs. 35 that the money was placed at the Apostles’ feet. This was a way of saying that it was placed under their authority. In Acts 6, the Apostles appointed some helpers to assist with the distribution of resources to those in need.

First, the leader of the church/Pastor is still ultimately responsible for the receiving and distributing of church resources. Any Pastor who cannot be trusted with money should not be trusted with the much more valuable word of God.

Second, Pastors would do well to appoint trained disciples to help with the physical receiving and disbursing of the church’s resource. Let’s behave like we understand the Pastor’s need to appoint trained discipled helpers to assist with the church’s resources.

This may mean making yourself available to be a trained discipled helper. This may mean praying for both the Pastor’s wisdom (i.e., regarding appointment and monitoring) and the helpers’ integrity (i.e., regarding the physical handling of God’s resources).

- Being a living example. Notice in vss. 36-37 of our Sunday School material that Joseph/Barnabas was named as an example of giving. First, our motive in giving should be to honor God.

We should live in such a way that if there is a need for a living example of honoring God, our name should be on the list. Think about how this relates to our standing tithers.

Second, those whose names are not called should be mature enough to avoid being jealous of the one whose name is called. If you are faithful, God knows and will bless you, even if people don’t acknowledge you.

Let’s work on being living examples of those who trust God and avoid being offended by our names not being called.

Read Acts 5:1-10

II. Insincere Givers. In our Sunday School material the story is told of Ananias and Sapphira. They sold some of their land and presented the money to the Apostles.

The problem was they pretended to give all of the proceeds to the Apostles, when they actually only gave some. They both died because they lied to God.

Applications –

- Dishonoring God’s representative. Notice in vs. 4 that because the Apostles were representatives of God, what was said to them was ultimately said to God. In like manner, the Pastor is a representative of God. What you say and how you speak to him/her is ultimately said to God.

This means you ought to be known for telling the truth with respect on a normal basis, but especially when you are talking to God’s representative/Pastor. Let’s work on honoring God, by how we speak to His representative.

- Lying for recognition. Notice in vs. 4 that the sin was lying about how much they were giving of their proceeds. There were no commands to sell their land.

There was no command to give all of the money to the church. It almost seems as if they wanted to be as honored as those who gave “all,” even though they only gave “some.”

Think about how this applies to people who lie and stand with the tithers, even though they are not tithers. Even if you win the honor of people, only what you do for Christ and according to God’s standards will last. Let’s make sure we tell the truth, instead of lie to gain the recognition of people.

It would be terrible, if we were so immature that we had to stop acknowledging people like Joseph (i.e., those who are doing right) to help people like Ananias and Sapphira to stop lying about their level of maturity.

- Messing with God’s money. Notice in vss. 5-10 of our Sunday School material that it is dangerous to mess with God’s money. We see that Achan was killed in Joshua 7 because of his messing with God’s money.

We see a curse assigned to those who mess with God’s money in Malachi 3:8-9. And we see a husband and wife couple died in Acts 5 because they messed with God’s money. This should be enough warning to avoid messing with God’s for anyone who believes God’s word.

Let’s live like we believe that it is dangerous to mess with God’s money. Such living should be known for obeying God’s instructions to give in proportion to how He has given to you.

Conclusion: Let’s work on making sure that we give with godly motives. God has much for those who obey is will.

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