January 5

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible

Introduction
Reading schedule

Acts gives us a bird’s eye view of the early church. Thousands came to accept forgiveness and devote themselves to Jesus. They left behind their old corrupt way of life and embraced a new way of life that many others found attractive. Luke gives us a list of practices and the resulting attitudes that developed within the early believers. While the lists are not exhaustive, their inclusion in Scripture reminds us of their centrality to living ethically in the light of the Bible.

The summary list given here, and another in Acts 4:32, mention both the mind and the heart. Engagement with Scripture is not just a mental activity, but should touch our hearts. In the Bible, the heart refers to where our desires, motivations, thoughts and emotions arise from. Our heart is the essence of who we are and determines our character. As such, it strongly influences our actions and is important in ethics.

The early believers listened to the apostles’ teaching, which would have centred on the Bible and the words of Jesus. Their hearts and minds were impacted, leading them to apply the message in their lives. This was not an occasional glance at the Bible or half-hearted listening to a sermon. They ‘devoted’ themselves to the Word. This led to fellowship—relationships where they got to know one another deeply. They would see what one another needed and use their gifts and resources to help one another. This was not the occasional nod across the foyer, but the deep friendship that develops from sharing meals in one another’s homes. They prayed together, praised God together, and saw amazing things happen.

All of this transformed the people. They had a sense of awe seeing God work in people’s lives. They had gladness and sincerity in their hearts. No longer clinging to their possessions, they saw them as things to be sold to help others. And so they gave thanks to God for everything. Little wonder others looked at them and were attracted to what they saw.

We should examine whether people are attracted to our lifestyles. Do others sense in us a level of contentment and gratitude that evades many today? If we seek to impact our world for Christ, we must take care of first things first. We must commit ourselves to God and get to know him better through his Word and prayer. This should lead to loving and honest relationships and a desire to help others. Through this God can change our attitudes and characters to better reflect his so that we live more ethically.

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