honesty

It’s been awhile since I ran an Our Daily Journey entry by you. There is still time to make changes if something stands out that needs fixing.

read > Acts 4:32-5:11

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself (5:3).

 Their sin ruined the moment. Like a brawl at a wedding or a belch during the climax of a play, their selfish act brought the party to a grinding halt. The new church had been an exhilarating community of love. “All the believers were united in heart and mind” and they “shared everything they had.” “There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need” (4:32-35).

Ananias and Sapphira were thrilled to belong to this community, and they expressed their commitment by selling some property so they could add to the pot. But they also wanted to keep back part of the money for themselves, just in case, so they lied and claimed they gave the full amount. So God killed them.

Their punishment seems harsh until you remember two things.

1) They lied to God. Peter told Ananias they were free to give as much or as little as they wished, but they must not try to pull one over on God (5:4). It’s an awesome responsibility to enter the presence of God—see how God dispatched Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7) and Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2)—for He doesn’t tolerate deceit.

2) They destroyed trust with others. The defining message of the new church was that Jesus had risen from the dead (4:33). This is incredible news, and as such it demands the absolute reliability of its messengers. If the early Christians couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth about money, who would believe them when they said their Lord was alive?

You and I have been entrusted with the same spectacular news. “We are Christ’s ambassadors” who plead with others to “‘Come back to God!’” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Do you want your friends to follow Jesus? Then be painfully honest in all things. Fudge even a little, and they will never believe that you believe your Lord is alive.

2 Comments

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  1. That is actually a really powerful message packed into a short amount of text, Mike. Love it. So hard to be honest about our failings in a world that demands perfection.

  2. When I teach this story, I also sometimes talk about the hypocrisy of pretending that their concern for the poor was greater than it really was.

    In other words, it wasn’t a lie to keep from hurting someone’s feeling, or even to save themselves some kind of embarrassment. It was told for the purpose of feigning spirituality.

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