Ananias and Sapphira were among the believers in the First Century church. This married couple decided to sell a piece of land and give the proceeds to the church to help the poor. This was a extravagant gesture of generosity. Many believers were giving sacrificially. Ananias and Sapphira said they were giving all of the proceeds from the sale to the church. However, somewhere in the process, they withheld part of the money for themselves, and gave part of the proceeds to the church. Whether they started with a lie or whether it developed along the way, we do not know. Ananias initially brought the money to Peter saying this is all we made from the sale of the land, it’s yours to use for the poor. Through the Holy Spirit Peter knew it was a lie. When he called Ananias out for lying, he (Ananias) was stuck dead and carried from the church. Three hours later Sapphira arrived, probably to check on Ananias. When she encountered Peter, he asked her if the money they donated was all of the proceeds from their land. She said, “Yes.” Peter asked, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?” She was also stuck dead and carried out, to be buried beside her husband. What is so strange about this story is that it really has nothing to do with the money. They weren’t being compelled to give any of the proceeds; it was all voluntary. Satan deceived them into believing they had something to gain through the deception. They lost their lives because they didn’t fear God.
Isa 29:15; Ps 19:1-4, 139:1-5, 23-24; Pr 9:10; Ec 12:13-14; Ac 4:36-37, 5:4, 9; Ro 1:20; He 4:13,16; 1 Jn 1:8-9
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Ro 1:20) There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves. (He 4:13)
It’s hard to understand why Ananias and Sapphira didn’t have a healthy respect for God after witnessing so many miracles since the Holy Spirit’s arrival on the Day of Pentecost. They had first-hand knowledge of God’s power and might. And even if they didn’t, Scripture states in Romans that God’s power and divinity are displayed through His creation and that everyone has seen it, and no one has an excuse. In today’s world many people refuse to acknowledge God as Creator, but even more do not respect His sovereignty. He who holds the stars in space and the world in place is deserving of our utmost respect. Ananias and Sapphira obviously thought they could fool everyone, even God. Their punishment seems extreme…death for a lie, a misrepresentation. However, God was making it clear that he demands honesty and no one can hide the truth from him. Christian people often pretend to be better than they are, more Godly, more devout, more invested. God sees every pretense and though you may fool some, or even if you could fool every human being, there is no fooling God, no hiding from God. Hebrews says that we “all” must account for ourselves. A healthy fear of God and honest confession of our sins are what God expects, what He requires!
How do we hide from others? How do we attempt to hide from God? Why is pretense such a problem among Christians? How does it damage the pretended…the church…the world’s impression of the church? What pretense do you find most offensive in others? What pretense do you feel is most damaging to one’s witness?
Find an accountability partner with whom you can work toward total honesty. Hold each another accountable. Be open and honest in all your business dealings and relationships. Compare what you say about your faith with how you live. Determine areas where you are pretending. Pray and work to live the life God desires.
Lord, reveal the pretense in my life. Help me to always be open and honest with you. Help me to be open and honest with others so that I can be a witness for you and not hinder anyone from knowing you. You know all my failings and love me anyway. Thank you for your grace. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.