There is always outward evidence when God works within the hearts of believers. It can be seen in the earliest accounts of the Church as the Holy Spirit began to bring the early believers together as a corporate body.
Acts 4 tells of the time Peter and John were arrested after healing the crippled man who was begging at the gate called Beautiful. Peter and John were then brought before the council, where religious leaders interrogated and threatened the two men because of the great stir among the people that had resulted from this miracle.
After the apostles were released, they returned to the other believers and told them of the events that had taken place. Then they all joined together in one spirit and prayed for God to use them for His purposes and to show Himself strong through them.
After the believers finished praying, God moved powerfully through them, as is recorded in verse 33:
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (NKJV).
There was an immediate manifestation of God’s presence through those early believers that would establish them as powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ. The grace of God was evident upon all.
This grace from God was the demonstration of His favor and blessing on behalf of those believers. It was His influence on their hearts and the imparting of His ability, empowering them to do what they are unable to do on their own.
The first thing these believers did as God’s grace rested upon them can be found in verses 34 and 35:
“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, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need” (NKJV).
A wonderful spirit of generosity spread among the entire church in Jerusalem. The believers began to give in order to advance the Gospel and to meet the needs of other people. That generosity is the result of God’s grace at work within a person’s heart to cause him to become a giver. Possessions begin to lose their grip as that person begins to grow in grace.
God is the greatest Giver there is. As His heart is born in us and begins to mature in us, His motivation for giving becomes important to us.
Giving is a lifestyle that is at the very heart of Christianity. This lifestyle was evident in the Church from the beginning, and God intends for us to increase in giving each and every day.
This area of giving can be so misunderstood or so misused for wrong, self-serving reasons that many ministers and leaders choose to leave it completely alone. But if God’s Word gives us an example to live by, we must teach it and proclaim it in the spirit He has intended. Then we can be assured that the subject of giving will not be taught to manipulate people, but rather to minister to them and bring godly increase into their lives.