“With his wife’s full knowledge [Ananias] kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 5:2 NIV)
The strangest meeting in the New Testament occurred when a man named Ananias sold a piece of land so that the money from the sale could be used for others as they had need. However, with the full knowledge of his wife Sapphira, he kept back part of the money for himself without disclosing it to the apostles. The result was that judgment came upon Ananias and Sapphira, and they died, right there in front of everyone. What was their sin? After all, no one had required them to sell their possessions; they had done so voluntarily. Were they judged for having kept some of the money for their own needs? No, judgment came upon them because they pretended to be something other than what they really were; they gave an appearance that was not reality, probably to look good in the eyes of others. They turned out to be bad actors, but the problem was that they were lying—not to the apostles, but to God himself.
Actually, human beings are all naturally born actors. We all try to seem better than we really are at one time or another– even with God. How ridiculous to think that we would even attempt to tell one thing to an omniscient God, while hiding something else behind our back; but we do it, because we’re used to doing the same with people. We guess what people want us to be like, and that’s the persona we project in order to be accepted by others.
One prerequisite for walking with God, however, is that you can’t be an actor. Jesus said that the Father seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth. Truth here means sincerity. God isn’t looking for a person who would say, “I have never sinned”; rather, he is looking for the one who would say, “Have mercy upon me, a sinner!” People who make mistakes but are sincere, get further with God than someone who perhaps may not have sinned in a sensational way, but who is self-righteous and deceitful, and who tries to cover up his or her sin.
Let’s remember that making a mistake isn’t the worst thing; it’s what we do after the mistake that’s all-important. The Bible says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If, on the other hand, we connive, lie, exaggerate, and make excuses, as Ananias and Sapphira did, we end up far from God and outside of the umbrella of his protection. Thank God that we don’t have to go down that road. We can ask the Lord to make us real, by his grace; and to keep us honest so we can live lives pleasing to him and grow closer to him every day.
Read Acts 5:1-11.