January 22, 2024

Whose Opinion Matters More?

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Devotion for the week...

This week we're looking at the story of another woman from the Bible, but this time for an example of what not to do. Her name is Sapphira and she and her husband set out to do something good, but it turned bad quickly.

Sapphira and Ananias were believers in the early church. At that time, "there were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need" (Acts 4: 34-35). What an amazing community that must have been!

Our couple make their appearance at the beginning of Acts 5: "there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest" (vv. 1-2). Did you notice how quickly their good deed went south? They sold the property and brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount! 

Ananias went to the apostles on his own to make the presentation and Peter confronted him. "Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!" (vv. 3-4). Ananias dropped dead and some of the men who were present carried him out and buried him.

When Sapphira arrived, she had no idea her husband had died. Before telling her, Peter gave her the opportunity to set the record straight: "Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?" (v. 8).

Unfortunately, Sapphira was fully committed to the lie. "Yes," she replied, "that was the price" (v. 8). 

How sad that must have made Peter. I can imagine him shaking his head as he says, "How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too" (v. 9). Immediately, Sapphira died and was carried out, just like Ananias.

The first time I read this story, I thought Sapphira and Ananias were punished for keeping some of the money back. But then I read it again and really took in what Peter told Ananias: the property was theirs. They could choose to sell it or not. They could choose how much to sell it for. Once the property was sold, the money was theirs, too. They could choose what to do with it. They were under no obligation to give any of the money to the apostles. It would have been fine if they decided to keep all of the money. It would have been fine to give all of the money to the apostles. It would also have been equally fine to give some of the money to help the needy and keep some of the money for themselves.

The problem wasn’t how much money they decided to donate, it was their decision to lie about what percentage of the money they were donating. We don’t know for certain what motivated their lie, but it’s generally accepted that they wanted to be recognized for their generosity. Donating some of the money wouldn’t have sounded as grand or as generous as donating all of it, so they decided to make themselves look as generous as they could.

The obvious lesson here is Don’t Lie. It’s a good lesson and one we should certainly take to heart.
Are we more concerned with what God thinks of us or what people think of us? | DevotedQuilter.com
There’s another, deeper lesson, too, though. We should be more concerned with what God thinks of us than with what people think of us. Sapphira and Ananias wanted people to admire them for their generosity, even if they had to lie to make it happen. They didn’t bother to consider what lying would do to God’s opinion of them.

While we certainly want people to think well of us, it’s unwise to make that happen by sacrificing God’s opinion of us.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful devotion. And one that I hope to remember!


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