while it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? and after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? you have not lied to man but to God.” [acts 5:4]
peter puts the issue very plainly here–we are to be stewards of what we have: God gives us liberty to steward our possessions, but in our giving let us examine the motives of our heart.
as you consider your own motives for giving, examine the following:
the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
he who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
he will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [psalm 24:1-6]
if we are seeking the Lord, and seeking to steward faithfully, we understand that all of our resources are really God’s. ananias’ contrived deed was borne out of a desire to be seen as a generous giver by others rather than the fear of holy God, and generosity borne of joy in the one who ascended the hill of the Lord for us–Jesus!
ananias lifted up his soul to what was false–the praise of men.
ananias swore deceitfully–that his gift was the entire proceeds of the sale of his field.
ananias had many chances for repentance and forgiveness and turning to the Lord, but instead, he chose to conspire to deceive, and sin–all sin–leads to death, in this case, it was instant.
but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. [james 1:14-15]
each and every day, every moment, every choice we have an opportunity to choose blessing or curse–we do not know how fleeting our life is or at what moment we will succumb to death. thankfully, we don’t make these choices out of our own teeth-gritting gumption–because we, left to our own desires will always, always fail. instead, we who profess Jesus as Lord now are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we draw upon his strength to empower us to choose the good rather than the evil. only in Jesus Christ we have mercies that are new every morning, every moment and every choice–let us pray for the ability to obey all of his commands, even difficult commands around giving of our resources, and let us pray most of all for a heart like his so that we are able to do so joyfully and without selfish motive!