The story of Ananias and Sapphira always scared and confused me when I was a kid because, subconsciously, you wouldn’t think the God who sent His Son to die for us would ever strike somebody dead, right?
If you don’t know the story, it happens in the time after Jesus ascended into heaven, when people are converting, disciples are preaching boldly, and everybody is selling all they have and living with all things in common. What a cool time. So this one couple says they’re going to sell their property and give the money to the common fund. But when it actually comes down to it, they decide to keep some of it back for themselves, but still tell everyone that they’re giving all the money. So when Ananias goes to give it to the disciples, Peter (?) confronts him about it and he just dies on the spot. His wife comes in a few hours later, wondering what happened to her husband, and Peter asks her how much they sold the property for. She lies to him and God strikes her dead as well.
When I was younger, this story troubled me a lot. Why would God kill a man and his wife over some money? That seems very cruel and slightly communist. But when you really think about the story, this is what comes to light:
1. It’s not about the money. God didn’t kill them because of the money. Nobody was forcing them to sell their property. God didn’t command them to give the money up. As Peter says, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?” It was about the fact they were lying about it. They wanted to look devoted and be part of the group, giving up everything for the Church and the Gospel. But they also just wanted the money. So they figured they could look devoted and still keep part of the money.
Lesson: don’t lie to others, especially in the Church about your devotion to God!
2. Sapphira was held accountable for the lie, as well. She wanted the money, as well, but it’s also possible she did it just to help and please her husband.
Lesson: don’t lie to others, even if it’s to protect your husband! Don’t love your husband more than God and truth.
Have you ever lied about your devotion to God? Tried to make an appearance of piety when your heart was elsewhere? I need to work on this one.
Have you ever lied for or with your husband or wife? How did it turn out?