Acts 5: 1 – 11 NLT
“But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. 6 Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”
9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”
10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 1 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.”
What a frightening event! Satan has tried to stop this new church with opposition from the Temple leaders. That is actually a good tactic because most people would go along with their religious traditions believing that God’s presence was in the Temple. And Satan will continue to use that tactic. But here it seems to be an attack within the church, and God stopped it abruptly. Dishonesty and pride were not going to be tolerated.
When you read this story, it doesn’t seem that it would have been a problem if Ananias and Sapphira decided to sell their property and donate part of it for those in need. The problem was they wanted to look like very generous and important givers, so they lied about what they did. That is such a very common sin – pride. We want to look important and wonderful.
Would God strike one of us dead for lying? That seems so over-the-top! Again, in reading Acts, I think we need to remember that this is the start of the church. There were many supernatural signs to confirm that God was beginning this new work, and we’ll see that as we read the book. Again, I think God was firm in making sure this new church was pure and holy – people who represented God well. So, Ananias’ plan to look wonderful, but actually was lying, was stopped in its tracks.
We should carefully consider our own behaviour. Today, we focus so much on God’s grace and forgiveness – and I definitely think that is true and important. We can never live up to God’s standards, and we can only bow in thankfulness that He is a forgiving and loving God. But … deliberate sin? When we know something is wrong, do we do it anyway?
As Christ followers devoted to Him, we need to realize truth is a priority for us. People should know us for our authenticity. Psalm 139: 23 – 24 says:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 51: 10
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”
Our culture holds success in high regard. It’s good to feel important. Yet, we need to realize that the most important thing is our relationship with God. Our honesty before him. We know we mess up, and God is waiting for us to admit that and ask forgiveness. And he is delighted when we are honest.
Romans 4: 7 “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.”
Let’s not get carried away by our pride and our wish to look good.
Our song for today is If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli