Act 5:1-4 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”
In the previous chapter of Acts, we saw that the Holy Ghost had moved a large group of believers to give up any claim to personal possessions. They shared what they had, supporting each other according to the need. It is likely in this scenario (just as it is today) that some had more to share than others. The key is that none of them claimed anything as their own.
Our society today is very fond of its possessions. We are taught to always want more or that we deserve better. Contentment is a fleeting thing for many. It lasts only until the next new thing shows up.
As believers, we should still understand today that we do not possess anything we can truly claim as our own. At some point, all our worldly possessions will be passed on to someone else. If not that, then what we have can be taken by some disaster. The loss of employment may drastically reduce our standard of living.
In First Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 7, Paul asks a very pointed question: what do you have that you have not received? Whether it is our faith in God or our worldly goods, we have nothing that has not been granted to us by Him. This acknowledgement has a significant impact on the way that we live our lives. It creates a daily sense of thanksgiving in our hearts.
This is not something that we can fake. We cannot simply appear to not claim anything as our own. It must come from a thankful heart. It flows from the recognition that it is only by the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed.
Ananias had a possession that he sold. His wife was privy to the sale. Ananias wanted to appear to be motivated by the same giving Spirit as others around him. He brought a portion of the proceeds of this sale and laid it at the apostle’s feet. He apparently intended for it to appear that, like the others, he was giving all (and his wife was also privy to the intended deception).
Ananias thought he was deceiving Peter and the other apostles. However, the Holy Spirit granted discernment to these faithful servants, and Peter called Ananias out on his attempted subterfuge. That Peter had caught him in a lie was not the real issue. Ananias had thought to lie to the Holy Ghost.
We cannot lie to God. He knows the thought and intent of our heart. He knows whether we are serving Him in love or if we are just making a show for others to see. It begins by the acknowledgement that we do not have anything to claim as our own, but rather that we have received it by His grace whether it appear great or small to men.
May God always bless us to serve Him with an honest heart and give Him the glory for all we have!