Starting in early childhood, people are taught to share with others. Sharing is a recognized virtue in most civilized cultures because we understand instinctively that selfishness and a lack of sharing are wrong. Whether we acknowledge God or not, we are still created in His image and are more like Him than any other created being (Genesis 1:27). Because of this, we recognize that other people are important, too. Most civilized people groups gravitate toward similar laws in response to God’s moral law written on our hearts (Romans 1:20, 32; Ecclesiastes 3:11). We each have a God-given conscience. Since part of God’s nature is to share with us (2 Corinthians 8:9), people naturally know that sharing is good.
However, due to the sinful natures we all possess (Romans 2:10, 23), we often allow selfishness to rule instead of sharing and generosity. Regardless of chronological age, we can still be toddlers in our attitudes. We don’t want to share. Beneath our plastic smiles and socialized responses, our sinful hearts may be thinking, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours should be mine.” Sharing is seen as a nice concept, but a little too uncomfortable to put into practice.
The first-century church set the bar high when they demonstrated biblical sharing. As the church grew rapidly, many new believers from other regions lingered in Jerusalem, hungering to be near their new brothers and sisters in Christ. In order to finance this exploding family, those who owned valuables sold them and donated the money for the common good (Acts 4:32–37). “They shared everything they had” (verse 32), and “there were no needy persons among them” (verse 34). Later on, as churches were established in other places, the apostles gathered financial gifts from various churches and delivered them to the Judean church, which was struggling (Acts 11:27–30; Romans 15:26).
The New Testament equates sharing with real faith. In his explanation of how faith is to be lived out in good works, James says that true religion is “to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). John likewise emphasizes the necessity of sharing: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17–18).
Christian sharing can take many forms, but it is the heart attitude that matters to God (Matthew 6:2–4). We who have been bought and set apart by the blood of Jesus must be eager to share what He has entrusted to us, whether it be time, energy, or resources. Sharing reminds us that we are not to set our affections on things of this earth, nor store up treasures that have no eternal value (Colossians 3:2; Matthew 6:20). Sharing also keeps us humble, frees us from the love of money, and teaches us to die to ourselves (Romans 6:6; 1 Timothy 6:10). We are most like Jesus when we freely share ourselves with those He brings into our lives.