Ananias and Sapphira—The Gift that Killed!

Ananias and Sapphira—The Gift that Killed!

(Acts 5:1-11)

Unsurprisingly, Ananias and Saphira do not appear in sermons on ‘Giving.’ What we modern church folk find distasteful—i.e. talking about a couple being struck dead for reneging on their contribution—is presented as being all-in-a-day’s-work for the apostles.Luke’s summary statement confirms that their sudden demise had the affect desired by the Holy Spirit: “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11).You really can’t appreciate the gravity of the sins committed by Ananias and Sapphire unless you contrast their spirit of giving with the church in general, and Barnabas in particular (Acts 4:32-37).The faith of the believers issued forth in a tangible sense of common-wealth. All needs, spiritual and physical, were being met as the apostles testified about the resurrection of Jesus, and the wealthy saints laid large sums of money at the apostle’s feet. Joseph’s spirit of giving was highlighted amongst all those who sold houses and land to give to the kingdom. His Christlikeness was such that he was nicknamed, ‘Barnabas’ meaning (as you know), ‘Son of encouragement.’The atmosphere must have been electric. So much generosity, so much joyful praise, and…Barnabas! It was at this point that our half-hearted Christian couple couldn’t restrain themselves. They thought they could buy the praise of men and pocket the change. But for the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, no one would have known that they hadn’t given all the money from the land they sold. Luke, like most Bible writers, is matter of fact about the whole event. Peter, being informed by the Holy Spirit, asked Ananias why he had lied to the Holy Spirit. The question was apparently rhetorical—he was struck dead. I have always shuddered at the event that took place just three hours later. Sapphira, oblivious to her husband’s death, is asked the same questions about her conspiring against the Holy Spirit, and is informed just before she takes her last breath, that her husband was struck dead for telling the same lies.There ends my sermon.

johnstaiger1@gmail.com

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