Saturday, March 1, 2014

THEY WERE BUT FLESH



Bobservations Column
by Pastor Bob Lawrenz


We read in Acts 5 the story of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. Two believers in Jerusalem who loved the Lord, yet held back a portion of themselves. The Church at Jerusalem was receiving support as its members sold their possessions. The Church took on a communal spirit and shared all they had with each other. It was a Church truly of one mind, and one heart.

Ananias and his wife sold their property like many others, but when it came time to turn the money over to the Church, they held back a portion of it for themselves.

When the Apostle Peter confronted Ananias with his deed, Ananias fell dead and was immediately prepared for burial according to the custom. Coming into the house later, Sapphira too was confronted with the conspiracy she made with her husband to keep back a portion of the money from the sale of their property. She too fell dead, and was buried next to her husband.

Peter’s words did not condemn them for keeping back a portion of their proceeds, but for lying about it. The couple’s unrighteousness reflects the hearts of many believers: fear, worry, and doubt can be the imperfect part of every person’s faith-walk, but Jesus tell us that perfect love casts out all fear.

Looking again at Ananias and Sapphira, even though they loved the Lord, theirs was not a perfect love towards Him. They still feared what the future might hold, and what the worldly costs of true faith are. Another time, a young man came to Jesus and said he would follow Him. Jesus told him to sell all that he had and “come follow Me.” But because the man had many possessions, he was grieved when he heard that he should sell it all, and he never did follow the Lord.

This is not about tithing and making donations: it is about having a pure faith and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is about our failure in worrying and fretting about the future, and lying to ourselves, and to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Isaiah 29:13 puts it in perspective for us:

“Wherefore the Lord saith, ‘Forasmuch as the people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips they do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.’”

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