Ptr. Manric Tan, IGSL Alumnus
Most of us know the story of Ananias and Sapphira. It’s a famous story found in Acts 5:1-11. During this time, Christianity was considered a sect or more like a cult. Judaism was the predominant religion. So to call yourself a Christian is like to be a part of a cult. During that time when one becomes a Christian, they get excluded from their family and community. So Christians banded together. They fed each other. The rich Christians took care of the poor. We can say that Ananias and Sapphira were rich. They sold a piece of land and then gave the money to the apostles. But we know that they kept part of the sale. When Peter asked Ananias, “Is this everything?”, he lied and was struck dead. Later on, Sapphira, his wife, came. She was unaware that his husband was already dead. Peter asked her, “Is this everything?” She said yes, and immediately she died. Have we ever asked ourselves what motivated Ananias and Sapphira to lie against the Holy Spirit?
I think the last part of chapter 4 tells us what prompted Ananias and Sapphira to lie. This is actually the story of Barnabas. He sold the field he owned, brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet. I think what happened was this: Ananias and Sapphira saw what Barnabas did. Though it was not mentioned in the passage, I think that after what Barnabas did, he was accorded great respect and admiration. And so Ananias and Sapphira wanted the same admiration and respect. The only problem was they were not willing to do what Barnabas did. They wanted the product but they did not want to go through the same process. I want to share three things with you. IGSL family, I just want to remind all of us very soberly,
- Respect cannot be earned with hypocrisy. We know that salvation is free, by grace alone, by faith alone, and by Christ alone. But trust and respect are both earned. If people trust us and people respect us, that’s good. Always make sure that the trust is not misplaced. It must not be based on reputation, It should be based on our character. Be good in public, be better in private, and be best in secret.
- Hypocrisy will not prosper without conspiracy. Let me read the passage, “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property.” Why was this mentioned? The Bible is making clear that Sapphira knew all along. Maybe she played a smaller part in the deception, but she still played a part. Maybe Ananias was the mastermind. He kept part of the proceeds, but it was with his wife’s knowledge. Holiness and wickedness have one thing in common. They cannot prosper alone. Of course we are sinful, but even the degree of wickedness takes someone pushing, encouraging, mentoring us. This is also the same way we grow in holiness.
- Passivity cannot thrive without complacency. Acts 5:11, “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” Sometimes if there is too much worldliness in our community, God will do something as drastic and extreme as what he did to Ananias and Sapphira. So that the fear of the Lord might again be felt in the community. God, in His grace and mercy, causes great fear to come among the church to arrest the movement of complacency.
How do we combat these things? Hypocrisy must be countered with integrity, conspiracy with community, and complacency with intentionality. Let’s continue to ask the Lord to guard our hearts and our brothers and sisters to hold us accountable.