Lord, teach us to be perfectly honest in all our dealings.
Read ACTS 5:1–11
Ananias and Sapphira
5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “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? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Eph 6:11).
Today’s passage unnerves many: we are all sinners, so does this story teach that God might punish us this way too? To balance this story, it’s important to remember that Christians are recorded doing wrong elsewhere in the Bible without the same degree of judgment. As Gerhard Krodel points out in his commentary (Gerhard A Krodel, Acts, Augsburg Publishing House, 1986, p122), even within Acts itself we read of Christians stirring up trouble in young churches (Acts 15:24), and of arguments between Greek and Hebrew Christians (Acts 6:1). – and those involved are not struck down.
So why is Ananias and Sapphira’s sin taken so seriously? Their failure to offer up all the proceeds from the sale of their property is not the problem here. It is the fact that they are pretending they have given everything. It is their brazen deception that is so grievous. In these early years of the church there were not vast numbers of Christians and every believer was new to the faith. The church was vulnerable. Imagine, then, the havoc that could have occurred if someone whose faith was not genuine got into an influential position, misleading believers and damaging the church’s witness. If Peter can be duped by Ananias and Sapphira’s offering, this is exactly what could have happened.
This passage, then, shows us the role of wisdom and discernment in protecting the church. Christians can find it hard to challenge others because we do not want to appear negative or judgmental, and it is always difficult to go against the crowd. How can we make it easier, then, for people to express hard truths in our churches? Do we know who among us has gifts of discernment and wisdom (1 Cor 12:8,10) – and are they given a voice? As we are in a spiritual battle, can we really afford to be lacking such a vital part of our defense?
Christians are sometimes called to challenge. What is our role in this? How can we speak out with love and humility?
Lord, thank You for including this account in the Bible. Let Your church know that You cannot be fooled about anything.
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