Good Morning!I am trying to get back into the groove of our regular morning devotion! So, back to Acts.
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; 2with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” 5Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. 6The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him. 7After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.
What a strange story this is! And it shows how quickly our human condition can infiltrate even what seemed to be a perfect community. No one required Annanias and Sapphira to sell their property, and there was no requirement to give all the proceeds if they did. But they were jealous of the respect or status that Barnabas had received when he gave the proceeds from a field, and so were going to use this gift to increase their own status within the community. That is a very human thing to do – but it missed the point entirely, which was about sharing among the community in an unselfish way. Not only was their gift tainted by their selfish intentions, but then they lied about it. They said they were giving all the proceeds of the sale, while actually they were keeping some back. They wanted the status, but were hesitant about actually making the gift! I read once about a little girl who watched her father take an empty envelope from the pew, seal it, and put it in the offering plate, still empty. That little girl was a grown woman, and years into her life, before she could get past her sense that everyone who went to church was false, before she could believe again. That was the sort of thing that God apparently did not want to taint his early church. What happened to Annanias and Sapphira is a strange morality tale. We joke about being struck dead on the spot, but that was what happened to them! I suppose the moral of the story is, genuine generosity is important; but lying to God is a dangerous thing to do.