Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” (Acts 5:1-4)
I grew up in a large cathedral-type church. It was a beautiful church to worship in, but it required a lot of upkeep. Much of the money placed in the plates went for utilities and maintenance. Marketing strategies had to be used to fill the coffers. I was young, but it would not surprise me if the largest donors, not necessarily the encouragers, were the ones voted onto the Board of Trustees.
The Holy Spirit made the heart of Ananias known to Peter. Satan, lies, deceit, and hypocrisy filled Ananias’ heart. Peter points out it would’ve been okay not to sell the land or keep the money because it was his. But it was not okay to give the money under the pretense he was giving all the money from the land to the church as Barnabas had or expecting praise and apostleship in return.
What we do in the church, we do for God. And if our heart is in the wrong place, we lie to the Holy Spirit. When we lie or are hypocrites, it is dangerous because others are watching us and will stop believing in God or going to church because of us.
Barnabas’ heart was pure and realized God would elevate him based on his heart. In contrast, Ananias sought the leadership of the church to elevate him based on the money he gave, not realizing that Jesus was the head of the church.
Father God, I praise you because You have a great plan for my life. Convict me when my heart is in the wrong place, so I can repent and take advantage of all You have for me. Remind me not to elevate myself because when my heart is pure, you will elevate me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.