CCF: Be the Church – UnMask
Bro. Popit Aragones
|Image courtesy of faithalive365.com|
In the concluding verses of Acts Chapter 4, we learned that the early church voluntarily shared their possessions and property to the church as a result of the unity brought by the Holy Spirit working in their lives. Barnabas who was named “Son of Encouragement” sold his land and brought all the money to the apostles.
However, Acts Chapter 5 started with a “But” to express contrast between the early church including Barnabas versus Ananias and his wife Sapphira. While Barnabas gave everything he had sold the land for, Ananias and Sapphira kept some for themselves. To be fair, believers are free to keep a portion of money entrusted to us, because God asks us to give willingly according to our heart.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
– 2 Corinthians 9:7
The sin Ananias and Sapphira committed was not about holding back part of the money – their sin is lying to God and the apostles, saying they gave the whole amount but holding back some for themselves. Trying to make themselves appear more generous just like Barnabas.
During this time, even after the Holy Spirit had come, the believers were not immune to Satan’s temptations. This event translates to the true condition of their heart - Hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is an outgrowth of narcissm. Hypocrites are people who pretends to have higher noble beliefs but are actually not. They always show their best foot to appear more spiritual than others. Faking their spirituality in the expense of lying.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
Ananias and Sapphira being struck down to death by God gives emphasis to the mostly overlooked by equally important truth of God’s holiness. God’s divine judgment to Ananias and Sapphira displays the nature of God being holy, sovereign and righteous. God in his holiness hates sin and cannot allow people to be complacent with their sins.
This event brought shock and fear among the believers. The gospel and truth of God’s word and character divides people. Genuine believers will see it as a wake-up call about God’s holiness, they will repent and continue to follow Jesus. Other believers may get offended and run away from church.
To avoid falling from the same judgment of Ananias and Sapphira - believers should always be in the lookout. Realize the reality of hypocrisy. Guard your heart from living a double life. The sin of hypocrisy is very dangerous because it does not only affect the life of the believer but the church as a whole. Hypocrisy can mislead and deceive people.
In conjunction, we should reflect and ask ourselves:
How is your heart today?
What is the motive of your heart, why are you doing what you are doing in the church, in your ministry, in your discipleship group?
As the word of God exposes the real condition of our heart, rebuking us, and confronting us with our sins – Do not be discouraged. Acknowledge your sins before the Lord. Yes it can be painful at times but this should not be the cause of us turning away from the church, instead a good reason to cling more to our spiritual family.