Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Acts 5:1-11 (NRSV)
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.
My parents were fairly strict when I was growing up. We didn’t have curfews as teenagers, but if we said we would be home by 11, either Mom or Dad would be waiting for us. Sometimes, though, we were on the honor system. If Mom asked, “What time did you get home last night?” it was not because she genuinely wanted to know. She was testing us to see if we would tell the truth. Nothing brought such swift and complete punishment as lying to Mom and/or Dad. It paid to be honest, even if we had come home late. Besides, even if we told a lie and thought we were getting away with it, we weren’t. They always found out. Always.
Thinking about my parents in this instance reminds me of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. They promised to sell their property and give all the proceeds to the church, so that the poor could be housed and fed. Instead, they sold the property and kept some of the proceeds from the sale for themselves. They then claimed that the property had sold for a lesser amount. Yes, it was their property to do with as they wished, but they had promised it to the church. They promised it to God. They lied to the church and by doing so, lied to God. Ananias and Sapphira found out the hard way that God knows when you are being deceitful. They were willfully deceitful and God dealt with them like my parents dealt with us—swiftly and justly.
All sin hurts God, and I would like to believe that I don’t intentionally hurt God, but the reality is we all do. Even our best efforts sometimes go awry. I’m so grateful that God gives us the opportunity to make our wrongs right and ask for forgiveness.
Dear God, we ask today that you help us remember to be thoughtful and purposeful with our actions. Help us to understand that our actions have consequences. In the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.
Go with God.