Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SKULDUGGERY (09/01/16)
- TITLE: Carried Away
By Donna Powers
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When I was a young girl, I went to Sabbath services and marveled as men brought sacrifices to the altar. All sacrifices were said to be honorable – but I saw admiration in the eyes of many when someone brought a valuable offering.
My father would say, “He must be highly favored by Yahweh, for how else could he acquire such riches to give God?”
As a young girl, I prayed for a husband who could bring an offering so enviable that such glory would be reflected on me. I searched for the right husband who would make a respectable living, and who would seek to honor Yahweh with His share of those earnings.
I was fortunate to find such a man. My husband is thrifty by nature and has therefore been able to be generous with his offerings. But, since we are not yet truly prosperous, I haven't yet seen that hoped-for look of envy. I long for that as keenly as some long for fame or wealth.
You may have heard of Jesus of Nazareth. His teachings inspired my husband, so we now follow the group of Christians (as they are called) in our village.
This group has no regard for riches – except as they can be used to care for the group. Our leader Peter has instructed us all to sell our valuables and give the money to provide for the group's basic needs. Peter explains God wants us to give from our hearts. Everyone in the group gives whatever they can. Some have even sold their houses and given the sale price to the group.
My husband and I have little to spare. He is industrious enough, but makes only enough to pay for the basic needs of our household and a respectable offering. I had nearly lost hope of impressing the gathering with a more generous offering, until we received notice of my father-in-law's death. He left my husband a large field of land.
I instantly realized it could be sold – and much money could then be given to the group. I dared to dream this might finally bring the respect I have always dreamed of. But I was also practical. This was the first time we had money above those basic needs. Why did we have to give everything away?
At first, my husband wanted to give Peter all the profits from the land. But I pleaded with him; didn't he see our dwelling needed a new roof, and had he not noticed how old our horse had become? And didn't he care I had not had a new temple gown in years?
“Surely, God will understand,” I entreated him. “No one else knows of this, so we could keep all for ourselves without any opposition. Surely we deserve a small part of this inheritance.”
“This is true,” he agreed. “Yet God calls us to give of our abundance, and I feel we should not hold back.”
Eventually, I persuaded him. This afternoon, he went to give our offering to Peter. I told him I'd join him for the evening service. Joyfully, I dressed in my new gown. I could hardly wait to see the others' reactions!
But when I walked into the meeting, a shocked hush spread through the gathering. Peter looked stern and sad. Before I could cross to the women's section, Peter asked me, “Woman, your husband has told us he brought us the entire profit from his father's land. Is this so?”
Every eye in the room turned to me, but the looks on their faces were far from admiration. Fear coursed through me; somehow, Peter knew the truth. I had to defend myself; had to preserve the chance we might yet receive the honor I sought.
“Yes,” I murmured.. “Ananias brought the entire price.”
Peter's face flushed with anger, and whispers rustled through the room. Suddenly, I wondered: where was Ananias?
As if he had guessed my question, Peter thundered, “Sapphira, you have not lied to men, but to the Lord - just as Ananias did. Look! The men who bore away your dead husband are standing near the doorway, and they will soon take you also away to the graveyard.”
Shock, pain and desolation seared through me like lightning, and my world went black.
Based on Acts 5:1-11
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