There is a verse in the book of Hebrews which says:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.*
I experienced the living aspect of that verse this past Sunday, because even before I heard the sermon preached, God had given an illustration of the passage taught.
Let me start with the sermon.
The pastor is preaching through the book of Acts, which talks about the church and the spread of the message of Christ in the years following his ascension. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and if you haven’t read the book, you should.
Anyway, we were in chapter four and learning that as the church grew from three thousand to over thirty thousand, according to some, Luke tells us:
Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.*
From “time to time” land or houses were sold by these new believers so the money could be distributed to those in need. As the group had grown, it was no longer possible to “hold everything in common” as we saw in chapter two, but that did not mean that people no longer shared. They did — and in very generous ways.
These new followers of the Way stood out in the contemporary society, because they did not hesitate to help one another. Theirs was a radical generosity.
The pastor said, “meeting needs is a group effort, and we must know each other well to meet needs well.”
That’s when God’s Word came alive to me. Why? Because I’d just experienced that in the life group I attended the hour prior.
We’re an unusual mix of ladies — some married, others widows — women of a “variety” of ages, educational and work backgrounds. One thing we’re not — afraid to share needs. In fact, this particular Sunday, we were a bit late in starting our Bible study because we took so much time sharing needs. There were illnesses, struggles over hard decisions, prayers for the lost. Heartfelt reminders of real and pressing needs within our midst and among our friends and loved ones.
One woman even said she was sorry for taking so much time sharing her need. That’s when the wonderfully transparent Nathaniel* of our group spoke up: “You don’t ever have to be sorry for sharing. We want to know your needs. This is the place to share them, so we can pray for each other and help each other.”
As more needs were shared, one came up with a particularly sensitive request. Immediately, someone said we should take up some money to help. “That’s what we’re here for,” she said. An envelope was found and passed, as women quickly dug into their purses for cash.
So, as the pastor said, “we must know each other well” in order to effectively meet needs, I thought of those ladies. They got it. They were vulnerable in their sharing, because they knew that it was a safe place to lay needs before the throne. Within our small body, they could find grace, comfort and support to carry them through the hardest of times. Theirs is a group effort of meeting needs.
Are you intimately involved in a church? Don’t just go to the “big” service, but invest yourself, be willing to be vulnerable to a small group of believers. Let God use you to join others in meeting needs and have your own met as well. We can’t do it alone.
It takes the family of God and the living Word.
Grace and Peace
*Hebrews 4:12 (CSB)