“A man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’ When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men… carried him out and buried him.
“After about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.’ And she said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ But Peter said, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Immediately she fell down… and breathed her last. The young men… carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear came upon the whole church and all who heard of these things.” Acts 5:1-11
Sapphira may not have known the fatal consequence meted out on her co-conspirator husband, but she should have known what was right. She may not have known they’d be caught, but she should have known they were agreeing to lie. She may not have known their plot tested the Spirit of the Lord, but she should have known it was greedy and deceptive and intolerable to the Holy Spirit. (Leviticus 20:26; Habakkuk 1:13)
When we get to conniving for personal gain and against the Lord, troubles ensue. Greed multiplies, attitudes distort, and self-importance trumps kindness and reason. Harsh words, deceit, and aggression overtake thoughtfulness, righteousness, and calm. The tangled web of knowing not the truth or power of God impedes any positive spiritual momentum. The Lord always offers a way out, but at some point of decline, we’ll be unable to grasp His grace, to our great detriment. (Mark 12:24; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
When in mercy God upholds and stands firm on righteousness, the results are redemptive. People reverently fear the highness of God, and bow in belief. They can’t help but acknowledge His truth and power, and irresistibly attracted to it, are compelled to display and speak of it, no matter the cost. (Acts 5:11,14-16,18-21,29,42)
There are many mysteries we will never know about who God is and how He works, yet basing decisions on what we do know to be true is vital. The more we do this, the freer our conscience, and the more natural becomes our inclination to obey.
In every test of stewardship, what is our practice? What greed or flippant lying needs uprooting? How thoroughly do we apply what we know to be honorable and right?
Lord, grant me the will to behave always such that You are feared and glorified.