I think this is one of the most sobering passages in the Bible, but aside from the obvious takeaway that lying is not a good thing to do, there’s a lot for us to think and pray about in this. Acts chapter 5 begins with telling us that Ananias and Sapphira also sold a piece of property. If you look back at the end of chapter 4, you see that Barnabas was the first to sell land and bring the money to the apostles. I would imagine that Barnabas’ act was seen as one of great generosity and was more than likely celebrated as part of Jesus’ provision for his young church. Is it possible that Ananias and Sapphira wanted some of the same recognition but without the heart behind the offering? Scripture doesn’t give us the details, but it does tell us that they made the willful decision to hold some of the money back but to tell the apostles they were giving it all. There’s clearly a heart issue going on here.
The Holy Spirit had to have supernaturally informed Peter of what was going on. Peter brings up the point to Ananias that the property was his to do with as he pleased – no one was forcing Ananias to give it all. He could have very easily said, “Peter, this is part of the proceeds from a piece of land I just sold and I want to donate it.” But instead, he wanted credit for something he didn’t do, and lied. The consequences for his actions were severe. Hours later, his wife follows suit.
What if every time you and I lied or misrepresented ourselves the consequences were as dire? What if we saw every sin we committed as a sin that was worthy of death? The reality is that is true. Romans 6:23 says very plainly that “the wages of sin is death.” Sin always brings the death of something – could be the death of a relationship, the death of a reputation or the death of a dream, but the result of sin is always death. Thank God Romans 6:23 doesn’t end there but goes on to say “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God wants our inside and our outside to match. He desires for us to live in truth – His truth, not our own that looks out for our own personal gain. I don’t know what all was going on within Ananias and Sapphira’s hearts, but I know that they felt they had to lie and represent themselves in a way that wasn’t true. I can shake my head at that and say that they got what they deserved until I take a deep look into my own heart and realize how many times I’ve done or at least been tempted to do something similar to make myself look good in the eyes of others. This passage is a great reminder that even though we may be able to fool others, God is not and cannot be fooled by us.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach