Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5:1-4
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 man but to God.”
            The early Christian church shared all that they had with one another. They were a community that relied completely on the Holy Spirit for all their earthly and material needs.  Ananias and Sapphira were acting as if they were members of this community but had no interest in living their life led by and in submission to the Holy Spirit. They desired to look good and be known for their own ability to provide for the community.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira scares us because at first glance it seems that they are being punished for not being generous enough unto their community, but their ungenerosity is a byproduct of a far more egregious sin. Their sin was that they were being deceptive to the Holy Spirit.
            Peter (in verse 4) reminds Ananias that God did not require for him to sell this plot of land, but that this whole business with donating to the community was of his own volition. Ananias contrived this idea in his head, perhaps thinking, “if I do this good deed, then the community will be better off because of me.” Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be respected as believers, but had no interest in actually following the way of the Spirit. The way of the Spirit never demanded that Ananias donate the proceeds of the land, but the way of the Spirit demanded that Ananias be honest and faithful to what he promised unto the Lord.
            The church is a holy body in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and God was using Ananias and Sapphira as an example of a body that deceives the Holy Spirit. The church cannot and will not survive if it is deceitful to the Holy Spirit. No matter how many good works the church does, no matter how generous the community is, without a genuine faith to the Holy Spirit, the body dies. The church can only thrive when there is trust among its members toward the Holy Spirit. The unity of trust unto the Holy Spirit is vital in the flourishing of the church.
            Ananias and Sapphira are a clear reminder unto us, that God is not interested in our works, but our heart. Generosity unto the community is not an act that we do, but it is a heart of faithfulness unto the Holy Spirit. Generosity has nothing to do with amount, but has everything to do with the heart.

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