Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Keeping It Real

“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet.

Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.” (Acts 5:1-6 NIV)

Have you ever offered to pray for someone after they have shared some difficulty they are going through without really intending to actually pray for them?  Have you ever been on a retreat and during the personal devotion time acted as though you were reading and praying, but in reality you were just passing the time until the next activity started?  Or have you ever raised your hands in praise of God and at the same time have been thinking about what you have to do after the worship service is over?

The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one of the most interesting in the New Testament.  At that time, Christians were selling land and possessions in order to give the money for the Church to use.  This couple, desiring to impress those around them but without similar generosity, lied about how much they sold their property for.  They wanted to appear more generous, and thus more spiritual, than they really were.  They were seeking to impress people and, in doing so, lied to God. And they paid an extraordinarily heavy price.

Now I have never known anyone putting up a spiritual pretense having been struck down by the Almighty, but this account does tell us God takes our authenticity seriously.  As Peter noted to Ananias, God does not force us to give Him anything.  He has freely given to us and we are free to do with it what we want.  What it seems He has is a very low tolerance for pretense.  If you don’t intend to pray for a person, you don’t have to.  Just don’t say you are going to in order to appear spiritual.  If you would rather do other things than read the Scriptures and pray, then do it.  Just don’t pretend to read and pray because you fear others will think you are less of a Christian.  And if you are lifting your hands in praise, let it be real, not just a display for others to see.  

Because the Church was brand new, it seems the Lord was sending a very strong message that His people were to be authentic.  If we read further, we see the message was received loud and clear.  It is a message we Christians need to hear again and often.  Drop the pretense and let our faith be real.

Today, examine how you project yourself to others.  Are you real, or do you fall to the temptation of trying to impress others with how spiritual you are?  From what we learn from Ananias and Sapphira, the Lord definitely wants us to keep it real.

© Jim Musser  2013

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