Are you a truth-teller? We all like to think of ourselves as honest, but sometimes it is difficult to speak truth to others, to ourselves, and even to God. Today’s reading provides a shocking caution against telling lies.
In Acts 4:32–36, Luke painted an idyllic picture of believers living in unity. The early church shared everything. If anyone sold property, the apostles would collect and distribute the funds to people in need. Luke provided the example of Barnabas, who sold his field and donated the proceeds (v. 36).
In Acts 5:1–11, Ananias and Sapphira wanted the same admiration Barnabas had enjoyed. They, too, sold a piece of property. However, instead of donating the entire amount, they kept part of the money for themselves. Ananias brought some of the money to the apostles. Immediately, the Holy Spirit revealed the deception to Peter who accused Ananias of allowing Satan to “fill” (“control” or “influence”) his heart (v. 3). Ananias not only lied to the apostles, he lied to God (v. 4).
Ananias’s giving was not compulsory. God hadn’t demanded it; nor had the apostles. The land had been his to do with as he pleased. So had been the money. Ananias’s sin wasn’t keeping back funds; it was faking generosity. He had lied against God. In Ananias, we see the dangerous progression of sin. Envy led to pride; pride to greed; greed to lies. Instantaneously, Ananias died. The young men removed his body and buried it.
Three hours later, Sapphira arrived, unaware of her husband’s death. Peter questioned her too. Foolishly, she lied as Ananias had done. She also died. Luke wrote that “great fear seized the whole church [ekklesia]” (v. 11). This fear was appropriate, a fear of displeasing the holy God.
>> Sapphira’s story teaches us to take sin seriously. We must always seek to be honest before God and live a life that is open and truthful. Spend some time today in confession. What do you need to bring before God today?
Help us overcome our shame and frankly confess our sins. You already know what they are, and it is right for us to confess them and ask for Your forgiveness. Please forgive us and restore us to righteousness.