Quite a number of years ago we were given a day bed; a small backless couch which we placed in our entry hall. But a time came when it surplus to requirements. I thought of chopping it up but finally we took it to the local, pre eBay, auction house. The auctioneer said he would try to sell it but didn’t hold out much hope. On the way home I suggested to my wife that whatever was raised, if anything, we would give to the church building fund as we were in the process of putting up a new building.
Two weeks passed and suddenly I remembered the couch. I rang the auction house and asked what it had raised. “5.45,” was the reply. Five dollars and 45 cents. Ok, it was probably better than chopping it up. When the cheque arrived it was for $545. For a brief moment I thought that maybe we should split it 50/50 with the church. We could have used $272.50. I remembered my promise and I also remembered the story Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. It is one of the scarier stories in Scripture because it is so close to our own everyday life: that mismatch between what we say and what we do; between our heart and how we wish to appear before others.
There are nearly as many explanations of this passage as there are commentators. Three points stand out for me.
1. Lying within the church to other brothers and sisters is as good as (or should I say “as bad as“) lying to God. That in turn has implications for the level of “truth in love” that needs to be developed within the Christian community.
2. Ananias and Sapphira had obviously colluded within their marriage. It is a contrast to a healthy marriage where the husband and wife hold each other accountable before the Lord and encourage Christian growth.
3. I ask myself how often I have tested God with my own lack of faith and arrogance? The answer is: far too often! I too deserve the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira. This is all more the more reason to trust in, and depend on, the grace of God and put aside any wilful desire to fool Him or disregard Him.