1 Kings 1:38-53; Acts 5:1-11; Psalms 124:1-6; Proverbs 27:12
NT: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. However, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.” When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard. The young men got up, wrapped his body, carried him out, and buried him. About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. “Tell me,” Peter asked her, “did you sell the land for this price?” “Yes,” she said, “for that price.” Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in, they found her dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband. Then great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard these things.” (Acts 5:1-11 CSB)
The issue with Ananias and Sapphira wasn’t that they kept part of the sale of their property for themselves. The issue was that they lied about it. They wanted to keep their cake and eat it, too. They wanted to appear generous while keeping some of the profits. Had they been forthright with their business, all would have been fine… but they thought that they could pull one over on the church: be elevated in the eyes of the community by saying they gave all the proceeds to the community coffers while secretly banking a portion of the profits for themselves. Acts Chapter 2 described the early church as doing everything with sincerity of heart. The Greek word used there literally means without rocks… basically a freshly plowed field that had no rocks to prevent a fruitful harvest. Ananias’ and Sapphira’s decision to lie dumped rocks into the field. The consequences of their actions may seem quite harsh – but God moved “violently” to prevent His church from immediately becoming corrupt. There are times when God moves very definitely to maintain holiness: when Aaron’s two sons offered strange fire before the Lord as worship, when Uzzah reached out his hand to keep the ark from falling are two examples. Jesus taught that God is looking for worshippers who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Part of the meaning of truth is with sincerity. God does not accept insincere worship and He wasn’t about to let this virtue-signaling couple get away with a feigned and unholy act of worship. When God moved, great fear came on the whole church and everyone realized God wasn’t to be trifled with. The question to ask ourselves is, do we ever offer insincere worship to God? Do we ever pretend to be more spiritual than we really are to try and garner favor? As we can see here, that type of behavior is not appreciated by the Lord, and He doesn’t want it in His church.