But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
God Kills a Dishonest Giver
I know that people are dishonest with their money. I know that people are not generous with God. However, the story of God killing a dishonest giver causes me consternation. What happened is that Ananias and Sapphira sold land and held back part of it for themselves. When they only gave part of it to God, he killed them. He doesn’t do that today, as far as I have experienced, so why does Acts include such a story. One solution is that the story is just plain fiction, composed to create more faithful givers. This is not an option for me. I believe it happened. However, I believe that it stands in much the same way as the story of Achan stands near the beginning of the story of the creation of Israel.
Achan’s death stood as a warning that people could not mess with God. It was a strong enough shock that the message became clear to all of Egypt that a righteous God does not side with deception. Lying is a serious crime against community. In the early days of the church a similar fear is established. People need to know that the God who is love and provides grace will not allow community to be destroyed by lying and deception.
So, although I don’t like the story, it has its desired affects on me. I don’t want to mess with a God who takes deception and lying this seriously. That’s the truth.
Father cure the church of deception. Let us not try fooling people into thinking that we are better tan we are. Let me be honest in my dealings with the church. Let my heart be more true.
- What did Ananias do?
- Why was he killed?
- Why wasn’t Peter killed for lying about knowing Jesus?
- How does deception hurt the church today?
- How might this story address corruption, lying, and deception in the modern church?