Esther 1-2 Acts 5:1-21
“Peter said, ‘Ananias, why did you let Satan rule your thoughts to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep for yourself part of the money you received for the land? Before you sold the land, it belonged to you. And even after you sold it, you could have used the money any way you wanted. Why did you think of doing this? You lied to God, not to us!’” (Acts 5:3-4 NCV)
There are a lot of stories in the Bible that leave me shaking my head. I don’t understand the how, or the why, and I’m left scratching my head. The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one of those head scratchers. The story in essence is that a man and his wife gave a gift to the church and the result was that God struck them dead. Oh, there are some details that flesh that story out: they saw everyone else getting praise for the faith they showed while doing something similar and they kept back part of the money and lied about it, but that death seems a bit drastic. Then I remember that God alone has the power over life and death. Ananias and Sapphira, in plotting their deed showed that they wanted personal glory for trusting God while not having the faith to trust Him.
Still, their death was a harsh outcome, from a human perspective – but necessary in God’s plan. Through their death, God reminded His people, and those outside the Church, that He alone was worthy of glory. If the lies they told had been allowed to stand, imagine how that would have affected the Church as they dealt with those outside of the Church. What if one of the disciples had talked about the amazing faith of people like Ananias and Sapphira who gave such a great faith gift with people who knew the real story? Those people would shake their heads and write off the Church for being full of hypocrites who say they have faith and claim to be generous but keep things back from God and from others. They’d be seen as liars who, like all Church people, couldn’t be trusted. Sound familiar? We hear those kinds of accusations leveled against people in the Church every day. If I’m honest, I’d probably mutter something like, “well, they weren’t really Christians anyway. They just went to church for business purposes.” People with fake faith are a blot on the Church and allowing Ananias and Sapphira to continue in their lie would have brought disrepute on the Church. I’m grateful that God doesn’t always strike people with fake faith down, because there are many times I’ve been in that boat. I’m grateful that God offers forgiveness, when I stray. Still, we need to grow in sincere faith, trusting God in all things, knowing that God still has the power over life and death.
Lord, You alone are God. To You alone belongs all glory and honor. Remind me of that when I begin to exalt myself. Remind me of that when I begin to use my faith in ways to manipulate people into thinking good things about me.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved