And all that believed were together, and had all things common;…
There are two sides to every street and to every life — the bright and the dark. The man who deliberately chooses the latter must look to himself for companionship, but the man who elects the former will not lack society. The double attraction of his circumstances and his example will prove irresistible.
2. The bright side exists not only in spacious avenues fringed with lordly mansions, but in narrow lanes flanked by lowly cottages. The cheerful Christian draws satisfaction from, and shows it in, not only life's great occasions, but in life's commonplace acts. You can form no judgment of the spirit of a man when he is being united to his bride, when successful in business, or when on a holiday. Watch him at the table, or in some ordinary duty, and you will be able most accurately to gauge his character.
I. THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE IS ILLUMINED BY A TRIPLE LIGHT.
1. Gladness. We like to see a man — particularly if he be a guest — thoroughly enjoy his meal. To see him daintily picking over half of it, and sending the other half untasted away, grieves the generous host, and excites commiseration for the man who cannot relish wholesome food. The illustration may be expanded so as to embrace the whole of life. The good workman is glad with his work and glad to do it. There is no gladness for a good mother like that excited by and indulged in home and children. And for the good Christian perfect gladness is only to be found in the blessed work that God has given him to do. But insipidity or disagreeableness in any of these relations is invariably attended by poor if not bad effects.
2. Singleness of heart — a word only occurring here in the New Testament — means soil from which all stones are cleared; and hence even and smooth, presenting no obstacle to the object passing over it. So these good people did not wait till conscience thundered that while they were feasting others were starving. Nor had they to clear away a number of prudential considerations, and make a number of troublesome calculations before their beneficence could find free play. All hindrances were already swept away by the fresh vigorous tide of charity which resulted from the copious baptism of the Holy Ghost. Surely this singleness of mind is wanted everywhere. What trouble is caused by anxious thought about the future at home and in the market place. What energies are paralysed when the thought of interest is allowed to mingle with the single thought of duty. How many Christians are kept back from joyous Christian service by allowing the disturbing thought of what other people will think or feel to upset the simple conviction that God's will ought to be done. Get these thoughts swept out of the mind by the power of the Spirit, and then let the current of activity flow straight forward, and life will be bright. Otherwise it will be gloomy-a mixture of light and darkness — or hopelessly dark.
3. Thankfulness. He was a happy man who wrote that 103rd Psalm. The unthankful man is never happy, and cannot be. Selfishness and discontent kill all joy.
II. THE BRIGHT SIDE IS THE ATTRACTIVE SIDE. The disciples had "favour with all the people, and the Lord added to the Church." Thus God blesses those who walk on the bright side, and gives them their heart's desire, which is success — the gathering to themselves of a like-minded company. Religious increase is brought about in two conceivable ways — by compulsion and by attraction. The first produces hypocrites, the second only true Christians. It is only when Christians win favour that God adds. Apply this to —
1. Families. How many children have simulated godliness when forced upon them only to cast it away with disgust when the time of independence comes; but how many have risen up to call God blessed by the winsome piety they have seen at home.
2. Society. The estimate which worldly men and women form of religion is derived from what they see of professing Christians. And, alas! much of it is wholly and naturally unfavourable. The time has come to re-try the Pentecostal experiment; not in form but in spirit, a spirit that shall work through established social usages — showing how a Christian can comport himself joyously everywhere, and society will not long remain unchristianised.
3. The Church. So-called Christianity has tried force, indifference, and means calculated only to repel. Let Christians try that which will have favour with the people, use means in the best sense popular, and watch the result.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;