THEY LIED AND DIED
"But a man named Ananias -- his wife Sapphira, conniving in this with him -- sold a piece of land, secretly kept back part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.
"Peter said, 'Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours; and after you sold it the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn't lie to men but to God.' Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work and wrapped him up, then carried him out for burial." Acts 5:1-6 (The Message).
Jealousy; wanting to be thought generous; looking for approval; what was it that motivated these two people to cook up this plan?
This is the first crack in the apparently 'perfect' and idyllic fellowship of the church. In spite of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, there had to be those in the church who were not really of the church, the hangers on who were in it for what they could get out of it. Satan's emissaries are everywhere, including within the church.
This story is a frightening reminder of so what Jesus had to say about the power of money and possessions. One wonders why He spoke about money more than any other subject, including things like prayer, the kingdom of God, grace, etc. Because He happened to understand the depth of human greed, He showed us how deeply the love of money is ingrained in the core of our beings.
It was the love of money that kept the rich young ruler away from eternal life. It was his attitude to money that revealed the transformation that had happened to Zaccheus. It is the way we handle our money that reveals the level of our spiritual maturity and will determine our role in the life to come (Luke16). Where our treasure is reveals where our hearts are.
This incident with Ananias and Sapphira is a shocking reminder that God is fully aware of the thoughts and motives that drive us from the inside. It was not the fact that they had money, it was their attempt to manipulate the church's attitude towards them with their money that caught them out. They were not being genuinely generous; they were being secretly self-seeking by acting generous in front of the church. And God knew and, unfortunately for them, so did Peter through the Holy Spirit.
How often do we not also try to manipulate people's attitude towards us by acting on the outside what we are not on the inside. This is insincere, to say the least and hypocritical -- something which God hates. It is an attempt to make ourselves better than other people.This is a subtle form of idolatry, putting ourselves on a pedestal for people to admire.
It's even worse when pastors elevate themselves above their congregations; closed doors, unlisted telephone numbers, unapproachable, untouchable etc. What happened to "servants leaders"; "shepherds of the flock"; "examples" etc?
Once again there is a call to the simplicity of "following Jesus". He did not live to impress people but to obey the Father and He was NEVER unapproachable.
If you have an "approval addiction", to quote Joyce Meyer, get help! There is blessed freedom in living to please God and not people.
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