Monday, March 13, 2017

Acts 5:1-11

Acts 5:1-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

  This story has a fascinating fear factor to it - the idea that not giving properly will lead to imminent death, that God is ready to strike down those who don't account perfectly for their giving.  But it's a much deeper story than that.  Ananias and Sapphira are, at the heart, greedy for recognition.  Rather than honor going to God, they want honor and glory for themselves.  They're aren't giving for God's sake --they are giving for their own.
  As Peter says, when the land was still theirs, they weren't compelled to give it away.  When the money was theirs, they weren't forced to give it to the church.  The problem is that they wanted everyone to think they had sold the land and given all the proceeds from the church, because that would make others think highly of them and their generosity.  They wanted the community to pour out honors and praise upon them.  They weren't thinking about what the gift might mean for God or the church -- they were thinking about what it meant for them.  Death is the end of all such idolatry -- when we take the position of God, reaching for the glory that belongs to him and him alone, we perish.
  And so the lesson here?  I do believe it's important to think about what and how we give, but it's also to think about why we give -- do we give to get our name on a building, or to reach for a memorial so that everyone will know how generous we are?  Or do we give out of generosity, pouring forth gifts to reflect the gifts that have been given to us?  We have been given eternal life, peace with God, through the gift of Jesus Christ.  How do we reflect our gratitude, and can we live in such  a way that directs honor to God.  As it says in John 3:  I must decrease, but he must increase.

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