This is perhaps the most shocking story in the book of Acts. It also shows us the seriousness of sin.
Two people in the church, Ananias and Sapphira, had seen Barnabas generously sell some of his land to help the poor. Perhaps after seeing the praise Barnabas had received from the others, they too wanted to show off their generosity. The problem? Their generosity was purely superficial.
Oh, they sold their land. But instead of giving all of the proceeds from the sale, they kept some of it for themselves. That in itself wasn’t so bad. As Peter later told them, it was up to them how much they wanted to give. If they had only wanted to give 50%, that would have been fine. If they had only wanted to give 10%, that too would have been fine.
The apostle Paul would later write,
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:7)
In short, God is not so interested in how much of our money he has. (Actually, as I pointed out yesterday, all of it really belongs to him). He’s more interested in how much of our heart he has.
I don’t know how much of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s heart he had, but it obviously wasn’t 100%. They were more interested in money, and the pride of life. Of being admired by others. And because of this, they lied. Not just to Peter. Not just to the church. But to God himself.
It’s also possible that it wasn’t any mere lie. It’s possible that they had even sworn to dedicate the proceeds of the land to the Lord, according to the law of Moses. (Leviticus 27:28). And by keeping back some of the money they had promised to the Lord, they broke their oath. This was so serious in the eyes of God, that Ananias and Sapphira paid for it with their lives.
That may seem harsh. And it was. But I think we learn one very important thing from this: Sin is a serious thing to God, no matter how little it may seem to us.
Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira thought, “It’s only a little lie. Who could it hurt?”
But though the actual sins we commit may seem small, they show the state of our hearts. Ananias’ and Sapphira’s sin showed the jealousy, greed, pride, and hypocrisy that was in theirs.
And while telling a little lie may seem trivial to us, the issues that lie behind them are very serious. So serious, that Jesus had to die on a cross to pay the price for it.
Are there sins in your life that you brush off as trivial? They are not trivial in the eyes of God. So search your heart.
What do the sins you commit show about the state of your heart?