Archive for October 9th, 2007

Having your cake, and eating it too!

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Today’s scripture: Acts 5:1-11 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

A cursory reading of this scripture should fill any reader with fear. You could easily come to the conclusion that God struck down two followers for not giving God every last penny they had. This is bad news for just about all of us, even for those who tithe faithfully or even give more than the traditional 10%. But I think there is more going on here than first meets the eye.

First, we have to understand what was going on in this first century community. The Holy Spirit was empowering this group to a degree that may have not happened either before or since. We are told there was a sense of “awe” for all the miracles and signs that were going on. People felt so close to one another in God that relationships transcended even that of families, and everyone relinquished their personal property and assets to the common fund. Everyone’s needs were provided for, and they existed solely to worship God and to do God’s work. The closest example I can think of that exists today is that of a monastic group, but even this pales in comparison to the outreach, love and miracles that were all a part of this first century group of Christians.

To be able to participate in this movement fully, a person would have to be completely dedicated and have great faith. To give away all of ones possessions in a time without the safety net of welfare and other resources for aid was a step of faith few of us can fathom. But that is what they did — well, all of them except Ananias and Sapphira.

You see, they wanted all the miracles and the glory of living so close to God, but with a safety net in case it didn’t last. Unfortunately for them, great glory requires great faith and, apparently, NO safety net.

The Holy Spirit made known to Peter the deception and he asked Ananias about it. Notice that the scripture does not say anything about God striking Ananias down. We are told that he simply “fell down and died!” This is very interesting, and makes me wonder if he died from intense embarrassment and shame, or something else. To make it more mysterious, we are told the same thing happened to his wife Sapphira when she too was caught in the deception. My theory is that the shock of the Holy Spirit leaving Ananias and Sapphira is what killed them. It may have been that going from being so totally dependent on the Holy Spirit to not having the Spirit at all was the spiritual equivalent of going “cold turkey” when your body has become dependent on some life sustaining drug.

I think if Ananias and Sapphira had decided that they were only comfortable giving part of their money, and had been honest about that from the start, they would not have died. They would likely have needed to be satisfied being on the “fringe” of this first century Christian group. But I believe God would have used them there, and to the extent that their faith allowed. It was their desire for great glory without being willing to sacrifice that got them into trouble.

Thought for the day: God will use me where I am right now. I don’t need to pretend to be what I am not yet.

Prayer for the day: God, help me to keep exercising my faith, so I can grow closer and closer to Your glory. Help me to realize I can be used where I am now — I don’t have to be something I’m not yet ready for.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Be still and know… is proudly powered by WordPress.