The Perils of Hypocrisy
Lord, lead me further along the path of renewal, and help me recognize the necessity of being honest before You.
Read Acts 5:1-11
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
”What a person says and what a person is, must stand together” (Maltbie Babcock 1858-1901).
The beautiful picture of the new community in the previous passage is immediately overshadowed by an incident which threatened the kingdom values of the Jerusalem church. Luke’s description of the early Church does not present us with an unreal perfection, but depicts a holiness that is always under threat in a world where corruption and greed remain powerful.
The tragedy that befalls Ananias and Sapphira is profoundly disturbing and provokes some hard questions. The central point to be made, however, concerns the seriousness of hypocrisy and deceit within the new community of faith. Peter twice stresses that the central issue concerned the sin of attempting to lie to the Holy Spirit (4,9). These people wished to belong within the community of the kingdom without having experienced the transformation of heart, mind and will that created the mutual love and sharing described in the earlier text. This hypocrisy threatened the life and witness of the Church, even as it revealed a personal failure to understand the reality of the holiness and glory of God.
Once again we are left wondering at the gulf between our experience and that of the first Christian community. As Justo Gonzalez says, if everyone who lies in church today were to drop dead, “our membership would be diminished drastically!” Peter’s response is motivated by the realization that the integrity of the practice of the new community is dependent upon it remaining a sphere of honesty and mutual love. Once that is compromised, and greed and deceit penetrate the life of the Church, the power of the testimony to Christ is fatally undermined. We have to ask, then, how our churches can more fully become places where people may speak openly about money, temptation and the struggle to remain holy, while finding needed help.
Are there areas of your life where you find it difficult to be honest—with yourself, with others, and with God? If so, speak with someone you trust and begin to unburden yourself.
Lord, I want my outward life to be a true reflection of my inward walk with You. Forgive me for any duplicity and help me to live with integrity.
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