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and they had the habit of selling lands

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and possessions and dividing [the proceeds] to all, accordingly as anyone had need,

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and they had the habit of selling pieces of land and other possessions and dividing the proceeds among everyone, especially to those who had need of basic things that are hard to do without,



The word used here usually pertains to “land” in the form of “land that is owned by someone.” It can also refer to other “possessions,” but land was the primary meaning. This likely meant that believers sold pieces of land that they or their ancestors had been acquired over time which were not their original homestead. They sold off their excess land so they could help the poor, but I do not think they sold all their land, including the family’s homestead. In the law they were not to acquire land for the long term, only lease it till the year of Jubilee. Since the Jews seldom followed that regulation, certain families acquired large amounts of land. By selling their extra land (hopefully to someone in the original family of Jewish owners) they were doing more to obey the Law than most had ever done.


“had need” implies the lack of a basic necessity, not just an inconvenience. First they took care of those among the followers of Jesus who had serious needs. We know from things stated elsewhere that they were also generous toward those who were not followers of Jesus.


Wow! You ask tough questions! In today’s setting in America, this is extremely hard to do and do well because of everything the government does for people. The government is willing to carry people, the church is not, nor should it be.

All I can say is that God looks at our hearts and he sees our attitudes toward helping others, and toward material things. If we give generously, both locally and abroad, God is pleased even if we don’t see the results we would like to see from our giving. I know many people, ourselves included, who have tried to help out someone in need only to be burned. But that should not stop us from giving. We need to focus on having the right attitudes, not just on what happens with the money. After we set it aside for God, it is no longer our money anyway, it is God’s. We are responsible to give; the recipient is responsible before God for how he uses the gift.

I highly recommend that every believer give well over 10% of his income to God’s work. This will free him up to be generous to the local body of believers and also to be generous when needs arise that are outside the scope of that local ministry.

We also need to be willing to invest something that has become far more valuable than money – time. We need to walk along side people in order to help them out. It will be much slower, harder, and more demanding than just giving them some money, but it is likely to be more effective at bringing them closer to Jesus.