“They shared everything they had.” Ac 4:32 NIV
When you read the story of the New Testament church, you tend to get caught up in its explosive growth and amazing miracles. But here’s a component you shouldn’t miss: “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them…those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money…and it was distributed to anyone as he had need” (vv. 32-35 NIV). You say, “If I just had more money I’d be happy.” You might feel more secure and have fewer worries, but you wouldn’t necessarily be happier. In the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers looked at what distinguished quite happy people from less happy people. One factor consistently separated those two groups. It’s not about how much money you have; it’s not about your health, security, attractiveness, IQ, or career success. What distinguishes consistently happy people from less happy people is the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships. Social researcher Robert Putnam writes: “The single most common finding from a half century’s research on life satisfaction, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.” But you can know a lot of people without really being known by any of them, and end up lonely. Those folks in the New Testament church got it right: It’s in sharing with one another spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally that you achieve your highest level of joy.