In my studies of the New Testament, I have noted two stories of men named Ananias. Their reactions to situations show the contrast in how different stories can end for hearts that are “publicly” dedicated to serving God. It’s what happens privately that tells the true story.
In Acts chapter 5 we meet a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They are wealthy and well connected to the established Jewish community. They have much in terms of material things. One day Joses—also known as Barnabus of Cyprus—who was an early follower of The Way (the term “Christian: had not yet been applied to Christ’s followers) sold a piece of property worth a substantial sum and gave the funds from the sale to Christ’s disciples and early followers to provide for the group, the needy, widows and orphans. Everyone celebrated this generosity.
Ananias and his wife Sapphira saw the regard with which Barnabus was held for what he had done. So they too decided to sell a piece of property they owned and give the funds to the group of Believers. After the sale was complete, Ananias and Sapphira decided that they didn’t want to give the entire amount, so they secretly held part of the funds back. When Ananias gave the funds to Peter, he represented that these were ALL the proceeds from the sale. He lied not only to Peter and the followers of Christ, but also to the Holy Spirit. He was struck down immediately and died. When Sapphira arrived, looking for her husband, she was told of his death and asked about the amount of the proceeds. She too lied … and died.
Why did they lie? The funds belonged to Ananias and Sapphira and they were not compelled to give all (or any) of it. It was pride and envy toward Barnabus was their downfall.
Let’s contrast this story with that of the other Ananias. He is only briefly but meaningfully mentioned in the story of Saul being transformed to the apostle Paul. After Paul is blinded on the road to Damascus, he is taken to a house to pray and fast and wait on the Lord’s action. In a dream, Paul is told a man named Ananias will come to him and Paul will regain his vision.
Ananias, on the other hand, is sound asleep and is awakened by the Lord to go to Saul and heal him. He questions the Lord, because Saul is known as the terror of Christian Jews, persecuting, imprisoning, and putting them to death. Ananias—like all of Damascus—knew Saul was coming with the intent to persecute the Jewish followers of Christ. Imagine waking up to the voice of the Lord and being told to go to a stranger’s home and help someone who is plotting to destroy you and those you love. Could you do it? Ananias ultimately did (Acts 9:10 – 17).
Which Ananias are you? Do you secretly hold back things from God? Are you publicly committed and privately withholding? Or are you the other Ananias, answering God in the middle of the night ,questioning that you are hearing Him correctly and ultimately going out to do his bidding?
Perhaps you have been both at different points in your life. Today make a commitment to be the Ananias who serves wholeheartedly when called, no matter how daunting the requirement or how incredible the action. Put all your faith in God and go forth to serve him. Hold nothing back that belongs to God.
Author: Lea A. Strickland, MBA CMA CFM CBM GMC
Copyright ©2012 Lea A. Strickland
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