Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” Acts 5:3-4
Sometimes, when we read accounts in Scripture of a dramatic event it can be easy to distance ourselves from what is happening, I would guess most, if not all, of us have never witnessed someone being struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit- let alone two people! And yet, these are accounts of real events that happened to real people, not so different from us.
At the very end of Acts 4, we learn that “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” (4:36-37). Presumably, the kudos given to Barnabas for a generous, selfless act played a part in Ananias and Sapphira’s decisions because immediately afterwards we are told that they, too, sold property and put some- but not all- of the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. There are many motivations we can see here: greed, perhaps? A longing for acclamation and importance among this community? Pride? All of these motivations are so commonplace aren’t they? And who among us can claim to have never been tempted by, or acted upon, these same motivations?
Experiencing these same temptations of pride, greed, and a desire for recognition and importance doesn’t mean that God will necessarily strike you down publicly. There are many people throughout the pages of Scripture who sin and don’t die a dramatic death. But we do need to remember that if we leave our sin as it is, undealt with and unconfessed, we are not far off from Ananias and Sapphira.
Pray through Psalm 51 today. Confess whatever you need to confess and ask God to “create in [you] a pure heart” (Ps. 51:10).
By Jessica Rust