Acts 4:31-37 :
When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. With great power, the apostles gave their testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Great grace was on them all. For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of Encouragement), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race, having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Notice that the Holy Spirit is able to give us the boldness we need to speak out for Him. It is very important to remember that these were just ordinary people that prayed and were given unnatural strength directly from God. That is exactly what we need today.
This may be the only time in history in which the end goal of socialism actually happened and it didn’t happen through the work of a government. It was a natural “grass-roots” act by free men that actually succeeded at successfully distributing wealth. Note that it happened under a government in which people “possessed” things. In this environment free people were able to willingly give up what they had for the common good. Notice that it wasn’t for the common good of the whole Roman Empire, but for the common good of those believers who lived in Jerusalem. Let me repeat that. The wealth was not distributed to all people. It was only shared among the Christians in Jerusalem at that moment in time.
Notice that there was no begging being done by the Apostles to get the money. The Christians willingly did this because “great grace was on them all.” Grace is simply the favor of God. This act of free-will giving happened when the people were aware of the great favor of God that was upon them, not because of the requirements of the Law that they already had. Only a people of grace can act this way. When legal means are used to distribute wealth among unbelievers by force, it isn’t Biblical.
We shouldn’t assume that when this was done, anyone could just come up and take whatever they wanted from another person. In this passage we read that the gifts were brought to the “apostles’ feet.” This provides a good pattern for us to follow today. Just as these early believers gave the gifts to the local church leaders, we can give through our local church leadership as well. I believe this helps to make sure that the money goes to something good. There are many scams in our world. Some scam artists create fake stories. Some “ministries” are known for taking large percentages of what is given for themselves. I have found that my local church leadership cares about me and how to distribute my gifts. I suggest we follow this pattern when we are not sure who to give to or who to trust.