Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Your Reputation Precedes You

Part 3 of The Gospel Gone Viral

Text: Acts 2:42-47




And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people (vv. 46-47).


What's Your Reputation?

You’ve probably heard the saying “Your reputation precedes you.” It can be used in both a positive or negative way. If good things have been heard about a person, their good reputation precedes them. But if bad things have been heard about a person, their bad reputation precedes them.

If a realtor has a good reputation, you’ll probably listen to her advice on selling your house. If a car salesman has a bad reputation, you’ll probably ignore his sales pitch. And a Christian’s reputation will affect people’s receptiveness to the gospel.


A Sharing Church

The church in Jerusalem (whom we might call the first Christians) was “devoted” to four things: “the apostles’ teaching,” “the fellowship,” “the breaking of bread,” and “the prayers” (v. 42). The church’s devotion to “ the fellowship” included spending time together and sharing: “All who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (vv. 44-45). This church was a sharing church. They shared their time (“together,” vv. 44, 46), food “breaking bread,” v. 46), and money (“selling their possessions and belongings,” v. 45).

Do we need to do this? No, it was voluntary (5:4). Description does not equal prescription. But we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss it. “How easy it is to justify our lifestyles and our attachment to things by writing off threatening texts.” [1] Darrell Bock writes, “In our culture, our individual needs and rights come before any needs of the group. The biblical picture is not of what someone receives from the church, although one does receive a great deal, but of what one gives and how one contributes to it.” [2]

Why were they willing to share? They had “glad and generous hearts” (v. 46). And why did they have hearts that lead them to share? Their hearts had been changed by the gospel. The gospel wasn’t something these people merely believed with their minds. Their sharing was not a duty; it was a delight. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). We will give gladly and generously when we are thankful for God’s “inexpressible gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).


A Good Reputation

The church’s reputation of being a sharing caused them to gain “favor with all the people” (v. 47). “The people” refers to people outside the church (i.e., nonbelievers). They saw that the church didn’t just talk about loving others; they actually did it. Jesus had said, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Are people going to listen to us if we have a reputation for lacking love for others? People aren’t going to listen to someone whose life doesn’t match his words (like a marriage counselor who’s been unfaithful to his wife). Everybody hates hypocrisy.

There is a connection between the sincerity of our love inside the church and the effectiveness of our witness outside the church. Luke writes that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (v. 47).

What’s your reputation? Your reputation precedes you. Don’t be a hindrance to people accepting the gospel. Live in such a way that you make the gospel attractive to people.

____________________

[1] John Piper, “The Fear of God and Freedom from Goods,” desiringgod.org.
[2] Darrell L. Bock, Acts, 155.