“. . . you have conceived this deed in your heart? . . .” Acts 5:4
Just a casual reading of this story one gets the sense that Ananias and Sapphira met a cruel fate. It’s offensive to our culture of tolerance. This story seems to deny the mercy of God and violate the spirit of lovingkindness which Jesus Himself displayed to others. Even within the Christian community, many who read this story would say, “what’s the big deal, so what they kept some money, who doesn’t?”
It wasn’t so much that they lied, they cheated. They professed to be generous in public, but lived another way in private. In the eyes of the church, they were great givers, but in the eyes of God, they were hypocrites.
People have always faced the temptation to live behind facades. They have thought that as long as their reputation in front of others was good, that what went on in private didn’t matter. That it was better to look good, than to actually be good.
This was a sin in the eyes of Jesus. To Him it was the most loathsome sin of all – hypocrisy – the sin of appearing to be something you’re not.
This cunning, conniving couple wanted to appear to be zealous supporters of the church, but in reality they were supporters of themselves. Ironically, the undercurrent of this story is that if they had gone ahead and continued to live a self-centered existence without pretending to be anything else, they might have escaped the final penalty. It was their double dealing that was their undoing.
They both dropped dead. Whenever what we display to others doesn’t match what we are in private, there will be trouble. It was the sense of their own guilt coming upon them with such a force of shock that was fatal.
It’s good for today’s disciple to remember that there is a seriousness and solemnness to love. Hypocrisy with God or with others always comes with a high price.
In what ways does this story make you uncomfortable?