At Christmas time we think about gifts and helping those in need and that is a good thing. But the needs and the commitment that goes with them are not seasonal.
The 4th Chapter of the Book of Acts describes the vow and commitment of the early church to meet the needs around them. Church members sold their possessions and brought them to the Apostles for distribution to the needy. Barnabas is named as one who sold a field and laid the sum total of his profits at the Apostle’s feet for distribution.
In Contrast to Barnabas, the 5th Chapter of Acts records the tragic consequences of an unfulfilled promise made by a church couple named Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a possession but rather than bringing the total receipts to the Apostles for distribution as they had promised, they kept back a portion for themselves.
The Apostle Peter confronted Ananias and Sapphira with the question, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?……You haven’t lied to men, but to God.” The consequence of their “lie to God” was immediate death.
Reading this story, one might think that the punishment of death for an unfulfilled promise is extremely severe. However, the lesson to be learned is that a promise made to God is serious business.
When we fail to fulfill a promise that we have made to God, we may not die immediately as a consequence but spiritually something diminishes or dies within us because we have “lied to God”.
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira is that they coveted the wealth of the world and distrusted God’s providence. Their hypocrisy was that they agreed with fellow Christians to give everything to God when in reality they held back a portion for themselves.
At this Christmas season it might be a good time to examine the vows we have made to God and his church. You can’t have a Merry Christmas and hold out on God!
In His love,