1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet… Acts 5:1-2
Many times we praise those who give, even when they give with evil intent and with an evil heart. It’s because some of us are more concerned with the outside than with the heart. But God is concerned about the heart.
Ananias and Sapphira were concerned with the outside. They saw how the church grew and how those who were prominent in the church were revered by the people. In their prideful hearts, they wanted to look good in front of the leaders of the church and in the sight of the people. So they came and laid down a large sum of money in at the feet of the apostle Peter. However, instead of just putting the money there and being on his way, he proceed to tell Peter how he sold his land and was giving the entire amount to the church. The problem was that he didn’t give the entire amount, but lied about how much he sold the land for and held back some of the money for himself. When Peter begins to condemn him, he show us that Ananias could have kept all the money if he wanted, or given a little, or not sold the land at all and would have been righteous, but the evil in all this is that he and his wife lied about it so they could look good (pride) and still have some money for themselves (greed). And if Peter hadn’t have been in tune with the Holy Spirit, they would have gotten away with it.
But what if this happened in the modern day church? How many of our church leaders stroke the ego of the rich in order to dig into their pockets? And how many of our rich give large amounts and yet do it with wicked intent? What if their motive is to give themselves a good name so that their business will excel? What if their motive is to be in control of the church, or to have a prominent name in the church? Or what if their motive is to make themselves feel more important than others? Would it not be evil? Or what if they give what would be a small amount to them (even if it were a million dollars) in order to try to ease their conscience so they can try to live their lavish lifestyle without inner rebuke? Do our church leaders care, or do they just care about the money in their treasuries?
I remember hearing about a drug lord who gave large sums of money to the poor in his country. He would build them parks and schools. He would feed the hungry. But he did none of this because he cared for those people. He did it all because he cared for himself only. He was buying the people so they would harbor him and shield him from the government. And it worked. Is it any different when people today give for any other reason other than because they love the Lord their God with all their heart and love their neighbor as themselves? I don’t think so. If they give with a pure heart and then are honored by the people, so be it. God honors them as well. But if they give with an evil heart in order to be honored by the people, God is disgusted.
So should we not give then? No, we should give. God commands that we give and that we give with a willing heart. If your money is getting in between you and God, then give it all away. Give it to the poor and follow Christ. Just make sure you right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing. But if you can honestly serve God without being hindered and still possess some money (like Zacchaeus), then according to Peter in Acts 5, there is nothing evil in that.
But we should be people that have little concern for money. Paul said that even with just food and clothing we need to be content. If we seek for money, it should only be so that we give it away to help others. That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the things that God blesses us with. Of course we should enjoy them, but we shouldn’t seek them. And we should always be willing to part with them. If not, they become an idol and a snare.
When you truly know Christ, money doesn’t mean much to you. There is no greater riches than to know Christ. The more you know Christ, the less you’ll care about money or things. I know this is true for me. It’s a great feeling, because it is a riches that no thief can ever take and no down economy can ever shake! Thank you Jesus!