“Now a man maned Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” (Acts 5:1-3)
The word “also” is key here in referring back to Joseph (4:36-37), who had just sold a field and given all the money to the apostles. Ananias’ problem was his own creed. He wanted to appear like a loyal and faithful follower of Jesus but was not in actuality. He lied about giving the whole amount of money received for the land to the apostles. His lie would bring about his death by God Himself, and also the death of his wife. The newly developing Church could not abide deceivers and liars. Honesty was the only policy if their fellowship was to survive.
This text isn’t so much about giving as it is about the heart of the giver. The heart needs to be true and honest. God loves a cheerful giver but even more an honest one. We must not try to trick God or others into thinking we are faithful with our giving. We simply need to let Him, through the Holy Spirit, lead us in our giving. When He shows, the what, and how, we respond faithfully. We give as He enables us to give. There is no more important place for honesty than in our giving for the Lord.
Heavenly Father, giving always challenges us. Most of us are not born as natural givers. We need to grow in giving by Your Holy Spirit. Guide us in our giving. Give us wisdom on where, and how, and how much to give. Yes, all we have is Yours and You call us to be wise in sharing a portion of it with the world.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.