Short Stories With Proverbial Connections –
Ananias and Sapphira
It may be, Ananias did not have a long history of recurring dishonesty. His wife may not have been caught up in that habit. But when they sold a piece of property to contribute through the apostles for those who shared a common faith, they “brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
While it can be argued with good basis that they were not under some sort of legalistic obligation to give the total to the apostles, Peter’s response shows that the Holy Spirit knew they represented the part as the whole.
The response was stark in clarity and conviction. Peter said, “ ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not as your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God’.”
We can imagine what the impact must have been, for those standing by but especially for this couple who had just liquidated their property yet dissembled about what they gave.
The previous context (Acts 4:32-27) documents that other Christians had a part in this benevolent effort yet were not charged by the Holy Spirit. Peter’s response shows the proceeds from the sale were at their disposal; they were free to decide what they would give and what they would keep. Giving was and is always a free-will matter between the giver and God. Yet, they – perhaps in a boastful way – signaled more sacrifice than was true.
“When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.’ And she said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ But Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things,” (Acts 5:7-11).
“The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy,” Prov. 12:22