Based on Acts 5:1-11
The text we are going to analyze today is from Acts 5:1-11. To give a background Ananias and Sapphira (Husband & wife) decided to become part of the newly formed 1st Century Christian church. Hence as requested by the custom of the 1st-century church they have to sell all their property and surrender it to the church. Though they sold the entire property they kept a portion of it and gave the rest to apostles. Peter rebuked both Ananias and Sapphira. They both died instantly. Why did Ananias and Sapphira receive such a capital punishment?
If a pastor gives a call to his congregation today and conveys the difficult life our missionaries are living in third world countries due to lack of missionary funding and ask for immediate financial support, I am not sure how many will come forward to fulfill. Probably someone might come forward to offer a few dollars or willing to give a portion of their tithe. But how many will be willing to share a portion of their property? Probably in today's context, nobody will.
In the first century, all the believers gladly sold their property and gave it fully to apostles. Everyone shared everything. It became an entry criterion to join the first-century church. Ananias and Sapphira did the same. The only difference was they did not want to share everything. They sold all their property and decided to keep a portion of the money. But if we carefully look at what they did, it is much better than anyone will do in today's context.
What Went Wrong?
What exactly went wrong and why? The power of God was expressed through many miracles immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People were healed even when the shadow of the apostles touched them. The blind saw crippled walked and the dumb spoke. There was an outpouring of spirit. Needly people found their savior when their needs were fulfilled. Nobody is compelled to bring an offering to the church. Apostles accepted the offering from those who gave willingly. There was no compulsion.
Ananias and Sappirah also were not under any compulsion. They could have gladly given whatever they desire to give for God or they could have enjoyed the wealth all by themselves. But they decided to lie against the Holy Spirit in such a season when there was tremendous outpouring. When the outpouring came the expression of the power of God is not only strong in good things but it also came strongly against any act which defiled God's holiness. The act of hypocrisy against the holy spirit was severely punished. These are the two sides of the same coin.
We have a lesson to learn from Acts chapter 5. God is a holy God. When we do something as part of God's ministry, we need to be most careful. We can't give our time to God in a careless manner. Let our offering be truthful. Let our talents be surrendered to him in full obedience. There is no compulsion that we need to do the ministry for God.
Jesus said, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.