Read Acts 11:27-30
27 During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) 29 So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.30 This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. (NLT)
There is an old saying that charity begins at home. The phrase is usually used to warn churches against neglecting their own internal affairs through being overly generous with funds to other causes. Or as an excuse to cut back our national foreign aid budget.
And of course we have to be careful with our use of money. Giving all we have away is simply going to cause others to have to give back to us. We do need to look after things that are close to home. The problem comes when these ‘close to home’ issues blind us to the greater needs of others.
The church in Antioch didn’t hesitate to help the poorer Jerusalem church. It is a worthy principle: those who have been blessed with more wealth are to share it with others who have lesser wealth. No church can simply focus on itself, flourishing without thought for other churches in need. So easy to become self-centred as a church let alone as individuals.
Generosity is a crucial mark of a healthy church. Being stingy or being self-absorbed brings no honour to God. Neither fear nor grandiose empire building should stop us acting to help other Christians in need.
And one other point: how often have you had a prophet address your church and urge some action on you?
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