Summary: Having ambition is good but when you use it to stand well in the sight of others and greed is in your heart, that ambition added with greed can lead to deceit and hypocrisy.
The Ekklesia - The Movement: Lies, Innuendos and The Truth
Acts 5:1-11 Text v. 4
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Nothing infuriates us more than someone lying to us or deceiving us. If I trust you and you deceive me, I will have a hard time trusting you again. There have been many friendships, marriages, families and businesses fall apart when trust is lost. Integrity is everything.
The first internal threat to God's unstoppable movement in the Ekklesia was deceit or hypocrisy. Fact is: the truth of the gospel rides on the integrity of the people who share and live it. The message is weighed by the character of the messenger. When Ananias and Sapphira tried to copy the examples of Barnabas and others by selling a piece of land and giving the proceeds to the church to serve the needs of others, they were not completely honest. They tried to appear righteous but kept some of the profit for themselves. God did not allow such deceit to stand among these first followers of Jesus. This incident in the movement of God was a dark one, but it is important in establishing the values of those who share its mission and Master.
1 Peter 1:15-16 says But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
To be holy is to be set apart for God, to have Gods character, or to be whole in who you are when you are alone and who you are in public.
What Does It Mean To Have Integrity?
Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way. It's a personality trait that we admire, since it means a person has a moral compass that doesn't waver.
Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.
Thomas S. Monson said, "Perhaps the surest test of an individual's integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect."
Alan Cohen said, "You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside."
Every week people bring their tithes and offerings when our church gathers. Giving is a part of our worship of God as we acknowledge our motto, " Its more of a blessing to give than it is to receive." Giving just like everything else that we do in the church help to meet not only the churches needs but the needs of others. While some people support the work of the church freely through their financial gifts. There are others who are more skeptical about giving.
Like Barnabas, Ananias and Sapphira were followers of Jesus. They were part of the Jerusalem church and knew of Barnabas' act of graciousness to help meet the needs of the people. His actions and those of others caused them to do the same. V.1
Kindness works that way - one act inspires another. The difference with this couple is that with Sapphira's "full knowledge", Ananias " Kept back part of the money[from the sale of the Land] for himself" v.2
He then brought what remained and "put it at the apostles' feet. Ananias looked like Barnabas, but his heart and actions were not the same. Either greed or a need to look pious prompted Ananias to perform this act of dishonesty.
Now Jesus spoke against Hypocrisy when he dressed down the religious leaders in his time for appearing to be one way outwardly and being another way in their hearts. In Matthew 23:27 He painted them as "whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean."
Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 "let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' "
Just like the pious leaders whose words and actions did not match their motives, Ananias and Sapphira violated a core value of Kingdom life - and that is......... having integrity in all matters!
Peter discerned Ananias' deceit when the followers of Jesus brought the money from the land sale to the Apostles. Jesus said the Holy Ghost would do such things for His disciples (John 16:8-11). Peter asked how it was that satan had so filled his heart that Ananias had "lied to the Holy Spirit" v.3
Peter could have known this only by revelation. It was revealed to him by the Spirit of God.
Peter was not offended that Ananias had lied to him and the other Apostles. Ananias' offense wasn't against him......it was against the Holy Ghost. Nobody made Ananias sale the land or give all the proceeds to the Apostles. The land and money belonged to him to do what he wanted with it. v.4