Lent – Day 22: Saturday, 13 March
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 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.
3 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? 4 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 just to human beings but to God.’
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.
This story reminds us that, while the spirit-inspired oratory of Peter saw three thousand new converts, and the lame man at the gate was healed through the bold words of Peter, and the authorities were told the Good News in no uncertain terms, and the Holy Spirit fell again on disciples praying together earnestly, the holiness of God was not to be messed around with.
Ananias had attempted to deceive the apostles. It was the solemn and unenviable task of Peter to rebuke Ananias. How did Peter know what Ananias had done? The Holy Spirit had revealed it to him. The manner of the revelation is not important – it could have been a word in Peter’s ear, a picture in his head, an inkling as Peter looked into the face of Ananias, or even an inking in bold across Ananias’ forehead – DECEIVER.
Peter had discerned that Ananias had fallen prey to Satan’s influence. Ananias, how did you let Satan have such access into your life? You have lied to the Holy Spirit; you have lied to God.
And God dealt with Ananias. And his wife. Righteously.
A spin-off from this sobering story is Peter’s attitude towards the Holy Spirit. Peter says to Ananias that he had lied to the Holy Spirit, and moments later that he’d lied to God. This did not constitute two separate infringements on the part of Ananias.
Do you short-change God?
Do you pretend you haven’t?
Father God, you will not accept anything from one who gives in public but cheats you in private. Search my heart, I pray, for anything due to you that I keep back for myself, or any pretence or practice that builds my status before others at the cost of honouring you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.