5 A man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, also sold some land. 2 He kept part of the money for himself. Sapphira knew he had kept it. He brought the rest of it and put it down at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why did you let Satan fill your heart? He made you lie to the Holy Spirit. You have kept some of the money you received for the land. 4 Didn’t the land belong to you before it was sold? After it was sold, you could have used the money as you wished. What made you think of doing such a thing? You haven’t lied just to people. You’ve also lied to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. All who heard what had happened were filled with fear. 6 Some young men came and wrapped up his body. They carried him out and buried him.
The context here is that the disciples of Jesus, this earliest of Christian communities, are sharing all their possessions. Ananias and Sapphira, who are wealthy people, also participate in this sharing. However, they lie about the proportion of their wealth they are sharing. They claim to be giving EVERYTHING away, but in reality they have held back some of their wealth for themselves. I assume they have lied because they wanted to appear good and generous in the sight of the Christian community, their new friends. But this is a great offence before God. It makes a god out of approval from people and diminishes God. Making a god out of approval from people will kill me, eventually. Life is only found in the one true God, who has poured his Holy Spirit into our hearts.
Lord, Holy Spirit, may my heart desire only your approval. May I rest in your love and enjoy your promise of faithfulness to me. Go before me that people may see that I honour you and your righteousness fills me. Lord, teach me to seek your approval alone.
Written by Andrew Mellor