8 Minute Read + Scripture readings
Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Acts 5:1–2 (CSB): “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.”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
As we read Acts 5 today, we cannot help but realize that the offense that was recounted in our verses for today was serious. With nothing but divine intervention, their lives were snuffed out that day.
But, if we remember yesterday’s readings in Acts 4, we realize that a man that was nicknamed “Barnabas” (“son of encouragement”), had essentially just done the same thing.
Acts 4:36–37 (CSB): “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Further, we realize that the chapters and verses weren’t added to the Bible until around A.D. 1227. So, when Luke wrote the book of Acts (under the direction of the Holy Spirit), there was no chapter division between Barnabas’ gift and the gift that was offered by Ananias & Sapphira.
Yet, one of them lived and the other two died. What happened? To get that answer, all we need to do is read the next couple of verses.
Acts 5:3–4 (CSB): “ ‘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.’”
Clearly, God took their lives because they “lie(d) to the Holy Spirit.” They sold a piece of property, held back some of what they profited from the sale, and gave the rest to the church. They led everyone to believe that they were compassionately and sacrificially giving it all to the Lord so they were lying to the Holy Spirit and lying to everyone who was watching.
Long story short, it wasn’t their actions that infuriated God. It was their heart attitude. They had a right to give only a portion of the proceeds from the sale. However, they did not have a right to mislead others.
Why would they mislead others? Because they wanted to get a pat on the back. That’s what the Pharisees were notorious for doing. They loved doing good things but doing them in such a way as to get the applause of people.
Matthew 6:1–4 (CSB): “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
So, what are we to gain from this? What adjustments do we need to make?
Simply that we should desire to do the things that Jesus has told us to do in His Word. Yet, we should be so careful in how we do those things. We should desire to be like Barnabas who simply wanted to obey the Lord in order to please the Lord. Let’s refuse to be like Ananias & Sapphira who did the right thing but for the wrong reason – to gain the applause of people.
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Lord Jesus, I know my heart. I know that I am appalled when I see people who do things to get the applause of people (or things like “likes” on Facebook). Yet, my heart desires to gain the affirmation of people as well. Help me to crave Your applause and only Your applause because You have said in Your Word that if I seek and get the applause of people, then I have my reward – You won’t applaud me (Matthew 6:1). Please help me as I seek to keep my heart pure in desiring only Your applause. Amen.