January 19, 2021
Background: The Book of Acts is an accurate historical record of the early church written by Dr. Luke. It is the connecting link between Christ’s life and the life of the church between the New Testament Gospels and the Letters.
The Judgment of Ananias and Sapphira
5 Now, a man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, likewise sold their farm. 2 They conspired to secretly keep back for themselves a portion of the proceeds. So when Ananias brought the money to the apostles, it was only a portion of the entire sale. 3 God revealed their secret to Peter [through the indwelling Holy Spirit], so he said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan fill your heart and make you think you could lie to the Holy Spirit? You only pretended to give it all, yet you hid back part of the proceeds from the sale of your property to keep for yourselves. 4 Before you sold it, wasn’t it yours to sell or to keep? And after you sold it, wasn’t the money entirely at your disposal? How could you plot such a thing in your heart? You haven’t lied to people; you’ve lied to God!”5 The moment Ananias heard those words, he fell over dead. Everyone was terrified when they heard what had happened. 6 Some young men came in and removed the body and buried him.
7 Three hours later, his wife came into the room, with no clue what had happened to her husband.
8 Peter said to her, “Tell me, were the two of you paid this amount for the sale of your land?”
Sapphira said, “Yes, that’s how much it was.”
9 Peter told her, “Why have you agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? I hear the footsteps of those who buried your husband at the door—they’re coming here to bury you too!” 10 At that moment she dropped dead at Peter’s feet.
When the young men came in, she was already dead, so they carried her out and buried her next to her husband. 11 The entire church was seized with a powerful sense of the fear of God, which came over all who heard what had happened.
In our passage today, Ananias and Sapphira have sold some property in order to share the proceeds with others; to help those less fortunate be sustained during a difficult time of lack and persecution. At this time, the government is corrupt and negligent to really care for people; they care only about furthering their reach of power. No one asks Ananias and Sapphira to sell their property. No one tells them if they sell their property, they have to share “all” the money with their neighbors. The issue we see in our passage is these two say one thing and the truth is really quite another. They want to draw attention to their so-called sacrificial “acts of love” on behalf of their neighbors when they are really loving themselves by painting a false picture to gain the approval of others in the community. This is a worldly attitude that does not belong among those who say they serve God. Therefore, this couple’s true motives are noticed by the Spirit who declares, “You haven’t lied to people; you’ve lied to God!” Judgment comes quickly.
Prayer: Lord Yahweh, you are generous beyond all understanding and your love is unfailing for all people. Many people find themselves in a time of lack and persecution due to the lockdowns in our country. We pray for them to be sustained by your mighty hand. Use your Church and use this government. Hold us accountable not just to hand out checks in order to look generous, but to embrace the very actions that further the well-being and restoration of those suffering in “One nation under God.” May your name be honored! In Jesus’ name. Amen.