This is story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They sold their land and turned it over to the Apostles. That’s how they did it back then. It was a young church, the Pentecost event still burning in their hearts. Those who chose to come together and be in community with each other gladly sold everything they had and gave it to the community. No one said, “This is mine.” Everything was shared in common.
If you were born before, during or shortly after World War II you know about Communism. Communist Russia, Communist China, over half the world was taken over by this new thought of sharing things in common. It scared us. We fought it hard. And when it came time to talk about the early church sharing all things in common we couldn’t go there.
In the aftermath of the failure of Communism, we’ve relaxed a bit. Sharing may not be such a bad idea. As long as there’s some left for me.
Ananias and Sapphira must have thought the same way. They sold their land. They delivered the proceeds to Peter. “This is all I have to offer.”
He lied. And he died.
You don’t mess with the Holy Spirit.
As we have transitioned from a nation of citizens to a one of consumerism, I cringe at this couple. I can’t give it all away. I need a little bit. Then I need a little bit more. And then a bit more. . .you know the drill.
There’s never enough. We live in fear of another depression. We live in fear that there won’t be left for us.
There was nothing wrong with Ananias holding back. He could have saved back some of the money. What created the problem was lying. He lied to Peter, he lied to himself and he lied to God.
What he couldn’t seem to comprehend was that it was all God’s. God gave it to him to use for awhile. He was a steward of the property.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too. (Psalm 24:1 CEB)
It all belongs to God. We belong to God. So the question we ask, “What would God have me do with my money and possessions?” might be phrased differently.
“How will I deal with that part of God’s money over which I’ve been given secondary control?”
Too bad Ananias and Sapphira didn’t ask that question.