No Command Can Inspire the Openhanded Lifestyle

From Awaiting a Savior:

The apostles, following their baptism in the Holy Spirit, went about proclaiming Christ in Jerusalem, and every day more were added to the church. God the Holy Spirit was bringing men, women, and children to faith in Jesus, regardless of social class. Those who saw what was happening were left in awe at miracles that were taking place. But there was something else—genuine community began to form. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” Luke wrote (Acts 2:42-43).

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47; see also Acts 4:32-37).

So strong was the bond between these believers that they had a great desire to meet one another’s needs. Nothing was off-limits. Homes and lives were open. People were giving away what they had, exchanging their earthly treasures for treasure in heaven. It’s amazing to consider, possibly because the whole concept is so foreign to those of us living in the western world.

What’s going on in this picture of the early church? Was it some form of proto-communist experiment? There is no record of anyone suggesting, much less commanding them to do this. Despite what some proponents of poverty theology might suggest, personal property was not seen as wicked or sinful in the early church. Indeed, even during this time, many believers continued to own homes where they would meet (see v. 46)—in fact, Acts 5:4 indicates that the believers were under no obligation to relieve themselves of all their earthly possessions.

So, why this outpouring of generosity? It was motivated by the grace of God. It was a spontaneous response to God’s lavish generosity toward them in not holding back the most precious treasure of all— free and unmerited salvation through the Son. No command or guilt trip can inspire the openhanded lifestyle.

“Finally, a book that tackles the subject of poverty in a biblical, balanced, thought-provoking, and convicting manner! In his book Aaron manages to walk the fine line of calling for a biblical solution to poverty without causing the reader to feel overly burdened with unnecessary, unbiblical guilt. He also shows how biblical generosity is ultimately rooted in the generosity of God himself. Too many times I’ve seen the call for generosity fueled by legalistic guilt. Aaron instead points the reader to the glories of the gospel as the motivation for giving. Read this book. Discuss it with your friends. Be generous!”

—Stephen Altrogge, author of The Greener Grass Conspiracy; pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania; blogger at

Awaiting a Savior is a truly rare book in providing a thoroughly Christian answer to poverty. It both thinks and bleeds. Aaron sees sin as the ultimate problem and Jesus as the ultimate answer, and does so while dealing with the practical, dirt-under-your-fingernails issues of gospel-centered poverty relief.”

—Josh Howerton, Preaching and Leadership Elder, The Bridge Church, Spring Hill, TN

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