Acts 5:1-4 But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it. Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.” —from The Message
Money doesn’t take hold of us; we take hold of money.
Ananias (who by the way is not the Ananias who healed Saul for God) and his wife Sapphira decided to do something good. They chose to sell their land and hand over the proceeds to the apostles. The apostles needed money in order to share the Truth.
The couple saw a good reason to give and decided to dedicate the proceeds of their land to this amazing cause. Yet after selling the land for some reason they held back some of the money. Maybe they needed a little extra cash to pay for something. We don’t know the answer to that. Scripture does not go into that detail. We do know that they made it look like they were handing over everything. So after Peter confronts them, both Ananias and Sapphira drop dead.
I can remember several times that Pete and I decided to donate to worthy causes. We looked at our donations for the year, made decisions based on discernment with God, and handed over money that we were comfortable with. The key word here is comfortable. When we have donated our time, talent or treasure, we are rarely uncomfortable with the amount that we donate. We don’t sacrifice food on the table, college funds for our kids, or retirement savings. Let’s just say, it doesn’t hurt us.
I am not saying that what we have donated wasn’t worth it. I am saying, we probably could have done more. We held back. Money didn’t hold us back; we did.
God wants us to give until it hurts. There needs to be a little discomfort. Ananias and Sapphira knew this because they were mortified when Peter confronted them – literally mortified.
Pete and I know this. When we hold back, then we know we are avoiding fear; fear of not having enough. We distrust that God will take care of us, and we focus on how we can take care of ourselves.
While I am sure Ananias and Sapphira were doing something good, they still voiced their distrust in God by holding back. Peter knew this and confronted them with it. It was a good reminder to me today that I need to focus on trusting God. I need to let go of money, and allow myself to trust God will provide what is needed. Many things hold us back from trusting God – pride, envy, lust, gluttony, anger, greed, or laziness. The seven deadly sins – the ones that hold us back from being the unique person that God made us to be.
What sin is holding you back from trusting God? Allow Ananias’ and Sapphira’s story be a lesson to you today.