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Are we Ananias or Sapphira

“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?”  Acts 5:3

This last couple of weeks, I have been enjoying listening to some 70’s Christian Rock.  Loved that era of Christian music, what with Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, Sweet Comfort Band, Phil Keaggy, etc.  But one of my favorites was Resurrection Band.  I pulled their first two CD’s out (purchased them on CD after the cassette tapes went bad) and was enjoying rocking out in the car on the way to work.  Over the years I have become more interested in the lyrics of these songs rather than just the music.  So, as I was focusing on the lyrics, the following stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.  

“The promises you made, are they still the same ones you keep?  Hey, once upon a time you heard the call, but when it comes time to giving your all you run.”  These lyrics are from their song “Ananias and Sapphira” from their album “Awaiting Your Reply”.  (In my opinion, one of the best Christian Rock albums ever.)  However, I want to focus on these lyrics for a moment, and look at them in the context of our lives today.  

But first, I want to tell the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  In that day, the Christians were selling property and giving the proceeds of the sale to the apostles to meet the needs of the poor and those who needed assistance.  They were not required to do this, but were compelled out of love to help their brother and sisters.  Ananias had promised God that he would give all the proceeds from the sale of his property for that purpose. But at some point, he decided to hold back some of the money.  And he was able to convince his wife Sapphira to go along with this scheme.  So when he brought the proceeds to the apostles, he insinuated that it was all He received.  But Peter, being in constant communication with the Holy Spirit, was not fooled.  He called him out on it, saying that he did not need to lie, but could have given what they chose to without lying about it.  Because of this, he was struck down by God.  And when his wife arrived and continued the lie, she also was struck down.  

God was not angered simply because Ananias and Sapphira did not give all the proceeds from the sale to the apostles.  He was angered because they thought they could deceive Him along with the apostles. They tried to have it both ways, to have the money and the recognition for such a generous offering.  Many had sold property and gave the money to the apostles.  They probably wanted to be in that company, without the sacrifice.  How many times do we think that way?  

OK, so back to the lyrics.  The first part says “The promises you made, are they still the same ones you keep?”  We all have made promises to God.  Either to Him directly, or indirectly through agencies and people He uses.  How many of us have ever said something like, “God, if you get me out of this situation, I will serve you all my days.”  If you made that promise, did you keep it?  Are you serving Him?  Or did you forget about it?  It is better not to make a promise, then to make one and renege on it. Think of the promises made to you that were not kept.  I have a slew of them.  It hurts when a promise is not kept.  And it may not be just feelings that are damaged, it could be much worse.  Maybe you relied on someone to pay you what he promised and they decided not to.  This happened to me several times when I had my own business, and when times were tough, this made it much harder.

However, the second part of the lyrics is where I want to focus, “Hey, once upon a time you heard the call, but when it comes time to giving your all you run.” Giving your life to Christ and accepting the salvation He provides means giving your all in service to Him.  When you accepted the salvation offered by God through the death of His son, did you declare Him Lord?  Romans 10:9-10 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”   So, if you declared Him Lord, this means your life is not your own, it is now Christ’s.  You have pledged your entire self in service to the one who saved you.  Have you fully given your life to Him?  Are you willing to do anything He asks, no matter how difficult, humbling, menial or outside of your comfort zone it is?  Are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle for God?  Are you willing to sacrifice all your possessions for Him?  Are you willing to leave all you know for Him?  He may not ask this of you, but are you willing to do it if asked?  Do not answer this flippantly.  Truly look inside yourself and see if there is anything that is more important to you than serving God with all your heart.  If so, than you have broken your promise to God to make Him Lord.  (Now if you never made that promise to make Him Lord, you have more issues, potentially salvation issues.)  God requires your undivided allegiance.  If He is your Lord, than nothing or no one else can be.  And if you have told Him that He is your Lord, than He is your Lord exclusively.  I encourage you, if you have reneged on the claim of making Him Lord, to renew that promise.  It will be the best decision you could make at this time.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  He will never require anything of you that He will not equip you for and work through you to accomplish.  But He does require your entire life.  Not 50 percent, 70 percent, or even 99.99 percent.  It must be all, if He is to be Lord.

If we make a promise to God to make Him Lord, and to give our life in service to Him, and to give up our own life by dying to ourselves, taking up our cross daily in humility and earnest, than that is a promise we must keep, no matter the cost.  If He is truly our Lord, than our life is His and He can use us in any way He chooses.  Do we, as Ananias did, say one thing and do another?  Do we, as Sapphira did, go along with others in the charade they are acting out?  God takes these things seriously, maybe not to the point of taking our life, but He will not let us be if we truly want to be in right standing with Him.  Do not harden your heart by thinking you can deceive God or His servants.  For one thing, you cannot.  And secondly, you will not be at peace if you try.  Keep your promises, to God and everyone else.  It is part of our new nature in Christ.

Categories: Theology
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