I used to wonder why the early church people sold their lands and possessions and divided the money. I wondered, because Christians stopped doing that. Was it because they became selfish? Why don’t we do that any longer?
Then I read about what happened to Jewish people who believed in Jesus. They were excommunicated from the church.
“…they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. John 9:23
I went to Bible Hub to see what excommunication entailed.
Put out of the synagogue –
Among the Jews there were two grades of excommunication; the one for lighter offences, of which they mentioned 24 causes; the other for greater offences. The first excluded a man for 30 days from the privilege of entering a synagogue, and from coming nearer to his wife or friends than 4 cubits.
The other was a solemn exclusion forever from the worship of the synagogue, attended with awful maledictions and curses, and an exclusion from all contact with the people. This was called the curse, and so thoroughly excluded the person from all communion whatever with his countrymen, that they were not allowed to sell to him anything, even the necessaries of life (Buxtorf). It is probable that this latter punishment was what they intended to inflict if anyone should confess that Jesus was the Messiah: and it was the fear of this terrible punishment that deterred his parents from expressing their opinion.
Barn’s Notes on the Bible: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/john/9.htm
So, the Jews who accepted Christ could not be with their families or friends. They couldn’t go to the Synagogue. It probably means they all lost their jobs and businesses. Their relatives would shun them. All they would have left is fellow believers. They would be destitute.
Jesus said, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33
John the Baptist said, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
Jesus said, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42
We Christians (the vast majority) do not do these things.
If a man had a job, could he make do with only one shirt? What would he wear when it gets dirty? This is how I get confused when I read the Bible.
I just prayed and asked God for an answer to this. What came to my mind was two true stories.
Story One: My mother knew a man at church who started a business. He was giving 10% to the Lord. His business grew and he gave 20%. Then it grew and grew; he is now giving 90% of his money to the Lord and charities.
Story Two: A wealthy woman in India was converted to Christianity. She loved buying the most beautiful saris (dresses). She went to Mother Teresa and asked her if she should stop buying saris. Mother Teresa said, ” Buy less expensive saris, and then buy saris for poor women at the same time.” I thought that was a good answer.
I think if we own extra land, houses, cars, boats etc. we could sell them and give to the poor. I think we should make our wants few and be happy with a simpler life. But I guess we don’t have to sell everything unless the Lord asks us to. And that would mean he wants us to do something for him that is special.