NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR NOVEMBER 22, 2020 : TOPIC – SHARING LOVE IN TRUTH
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
NOVEMBER 22, 2020
SHARING LOVE IN TRUTH
Devotional Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Background/Lesson Scripture: Acts 4:32 – 5:11
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32
Primary Learning Outcome/Indicators
Learners will know that God has commanded us to love one another as He loves us and indicate achievement of this by:
• Stating some benefits of communal living among Christians;
• Discussing the penalty of conspiring against the Holy Spirit, like Ananias and Sapphira in today’s lesson;
• Making verbal commitment not to repeat the mistakes of Ananias and Sapphira.
The more the activities of insurgency increased, the more the Christians were united in heart and mind. The fellowship centres was rotated from house to house because all the churches in the community had been burnt down without immediate hope to rebuild. Those whose houses were burnt were graciously accommodated, fed, and clothed by other brethren as well as those who lost other valuable items. Particularly, one of the members voluntarily terminated his five hundred thousand naira fixed deposit and shared the money among some of them so as to enable them start their businesses again. Farmers among them regularly supplied foodstuff, traders whose wares were not destroyed supplied good clothes and other things. The teachers and doctors willingly played their roles without collecting money for their services. Indeed, it was a beautiful scenario that can best be described as ‘Sharing love in truth” because no one lacked anything. This was the testimony of Pastor Wadama Sule from one of the Northern Conferences after the attack of Boko Haram, some years ago. The climax of the testimony was that many people identified with the church because of the unity displayed by the brethren.
The story above can be likened to the experience of the early church. Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, the early disciples enjoyed the benefits of sharing love in truth. In the true spirit of fellowship, they voluntarily shared what they had together. Some even sold their lands and gave the money to the apostles, who in turn distributed it to those who had needs. Unlike the early church, it seems contemporary believers do not have the same mindset as many live in affluence while others experience lack and suffer in silence. Thus today’s lesson focuses on the need to care for fellow Christians by sharing what they have in truth and not in deceit or show-off.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A. THE BELIEVERS SHARED THEIR POSSESSIONS. ACTS 4:32-37
After the Pentecost experience, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were able to speak the Word of God boldly (Acts 4:31). The aftermath of the event brought increase to the church, even though more needs arose. However, all the believers were so united in heart and mind that “no one claimed that any of his possessions was his but they shared everything in common” (v. 32). In other words, there were no needy persons among them. From time to time, land and house owners sold them and brought the money to the apostles who further distributed it according to the needs of the people. Notable among them was Joseph, from Cyprus, whom the apostles named Barnabas (meaning Son of Encouragement). He willingly sold a piece of land and handed over the money to the apostles for onward distribution (v. 37). From the passage, it is apparent that the brethren:
• Were all united (v. 32b).
• They were not selfish (v. 35).
• They truly shared love in truth.
• The gap between the poor and rich was bridged.
• There were no needy persons among them (4:34). Truly, these indications are some benefits of communal living in any Christian community.
The early church understood the concept of sharing love in truth and communal living and they practised it to the letter. Communal living is the idea of people living together, sharing possessions and responsibilities as a big family. It gives everybody a sense of belonging without discrimination. Besides, it enhances unity, a good way of presenting the gospel message to the unsaved and a means of fulfilling the kingdom mandate of caring for one another. By implication, it is the secret to kingdom expansion as seen in the early church. Undoubtedly, it is a sign of a healthy church. This implies that God is not happy when any member of His household is suffering while he/she can be helped by those who are rich around them.
1. Discuss what the church can do to improve the ministry of care, especially these days when there is hunger in the land.
2. What are the barriers to communal living among Christians today and how can we overcome them, according to today’s lesson?
B. ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA CONSPIRED TO LIE. ACTS 5:1-4
Barnabas set an example of generous giving by bringing the money he sold from a piece of land to the apostles to distribute to the needy among them. Probably, Ananias and Sapphira were motivated to do likewise but not with love, truth and sincerity of heart. Having sold the land, the couple conspired and kept back part of the money probably for themselves before Ananias handed over the balance to the apostles. By the help of the Holy Spirit and through the gift of discernment, Peter knew that Ananias was not truthful. He said to him, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (v. 3) Of course, they had the right to keep a part of the money for their up-keep because the land belongs to him before it was sold. Peter publicly made it known that what he (Ananias) had done was satanic; he lied against the Holy Spirit and not against men. Although Ananias was the one who sold the land, yet Sapphira obviously participated in the deceitful act because she consented to her husband’s plan to keep part of the money and lie to Peter. Actually, their sin was not the amount Ananias brought to Peter but that they lied that that was the exact amount they sold the land. After all, the contributions and sharing among the brethren was not mandatory but spontaneous and voluntary (v. 4). Another example is the case of Achan who violated the command not to take anything from Jericho. Eventually, Achan and his entire family members were stoned to death (Joshua 7:1-25). In the same manner, some Christians lie about their resources and giving with the assumption that God understands. Christians should be reminded that our gifts to God must be with truthfulness of the heart instead of lying and pretense, because of the punishment it attracts. We should remember that nothing is hidden from God; He knows and sees every plot against Him, even in our inner room or thought.
1. Identify the mistakes of Ananias and Sapphira and how to overcome such.
2. In practical ways, discuss why some Christians are not truthful in their giving,
despite the regular teaching on stewardship.
C. PENALTY FOR CONSPIRACY. ACTS 5:5-11
Peter’s response to Ananias’ falsehood and declaration in verse 4 was terrifying to the extent that he (Ananias) fell down and died. The people who heard about the incident were greatly frightened. Probably because of the Jewish custom that calls for a quick burial of the dead, if possible before the day is over, Ananias’ corpse was wrapped and carried by some young men for burial. His wife, Sapphira came about three hours later without knowing that her husband was dead. Peter said, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” Unfortunately, she failed Peter’s test. Sapphira replied, “that is the price.” (v. 8) Nevertheless, Peter regarded her response as a test of the Holy Spirit and said to her, “Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” On hearing this, she fell down and died and was buried beside her husband, by the same men. The penalty of conspiring against the Holy Spirit is severe as it is seen in the life of Ananias and Sapphira. They died the same day because they chose to conspire against God and the Holy Spirit. The incident brought great fear to the Christian community in Jerusalem and all who heard about it. Like the case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, God does not tolerate hypocrisy and deceit, no matter who is involved. The Scripture makes it clear that death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Two things would have been needful: one of the couple would have revolted against the plan to lie and disclose the real amount the land was sold to Peter and how they have kept a part for their family upkeep. Sadly, they both connived and lied against the Holy Spirit probably with the assumption that their dishonesty will not be known. They died as a result of their deceit, which suggests that every sin goes with its punishment and it can be in any form. The summary of this lesson is that God still punishes every act of dishonesty and conspiracy. Therefore, people should not conspire to sin, especially when one brings ungodly suggestions. This calls for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and humility of heart to always yield to corrections whenever the need arises.
1. Discuss the sin of Ananias and Sapphira and how believers can avoid such.
2. Identify some other penalties of the sin of deceit in relation to today’s lesson.
3. According to verse 11, what lessons do you think the church can learn from the incidence?
Commitment Based on Today’s Lesson
My Personal Commitment__________________
Commitment to My Church_________________
Commitment towards My Relationship with Others____________
• Pray and ask God to help believers to always share love in truth.
• Pray against every form of deceit against God and humankind.
• Forgive, O Lord, our sin of dishonesty and cheating, in Jesus’ Name
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity
• Let the class members write down at least three lessons from the life of Ananias and Sapphira and how they intend to avoid such sin.
• They are to choose partners with whom they will pray for God to help them maintain a steady relationship with Him.
• Christians should endeavour to show love in truth.
• Christians should avoid the mistake of Ananias and Sapphira.
• God cannot be deceived; He sees and knows everything about us all.
• God cherishes and rewards truthfulness but punishes insincerity.
• Lying is a sin against God.
• Every act of sin attracts appropriate punishment.
• The wages of sin is death.