Yesterday’s New Music Friday in the Christian music scene was a little more laid back compared to the excitement from last week’s Graves into Gardens release. There were a lot of new singles released, which I will share throughout the rest of this week. Today I’m sharing the song below. Shalom means “peace” in Hebrew. It is often used as a greeting. In Savannah, there is an annual Jewish Food Festival called Shalom Y’all. Mark your calendars for that festival, it’s in October, a perfect time to visit Savannah, and America will hopefully be fully reopened by then.
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With 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.
3Then 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? 4Didn’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.”
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened…
…10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 5:1-11)
For our current generation, where just giving the standard ten percent tithe to the church is a struggle, this story sure seems harsh. Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife, both suddenly die due to them selling some property and keeping some of the profit for themselves instead of giving it all to the church. Sounds pretty normal, especially in this day and age where we never give everything we have. It almost seems like they were being wise by keeping some of it in their savings, building up their rainy day fund. But there must be more to this story than is told in the Bible. I do think this is a unique event, especially in the New Testament. The couple never seems to be withholding the money in a malicious way, but regardless, their guilt is so heavy that they both fell down dead. Now the Bible does not say that God struck them dead, which is important, because in the Old Testament, when God dealt with those who lied to Him, the author clearly stated what God had done. In Leviticus 10:2, God smites Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu for offering “unauthorized fire.” 10:2 reads:
So fire came out of the presence of the Lord and consumed
them, and they died before the Lord. (Leviticus 10:2)
Looking at our verses above, Luke never says that God killed these two. I think their guilt caused their death, and that’s the morale of the story above. It was not about them not giving all the money they sold to the Church. It was the fact that they must have already had enormous amounts of anxiety and guilt about their decision to withhold some of their profits for themselves. This was a time when everyone in the Christian Church was selling everything they had to give all they had to help one another out. Ananias and Sapphira knew what was expected of them, yet they chose selfish actions and I believe that is what cost them their lives. Not that God was punishing them for not giving the Church all their profits from the sale of the property, but their own corrupt hearts gave out.
If this were the expectation of the early Christian Church, that expectation sure has relaxed over the last two thousand years. But I think we all would not be alive today if this were the requirement to follow Christ. We’re no longer compelled to sell all our property to give to the poor and the Church, though it wouldn’t hurt your favor with Jesus. What Jesus does ask of us is that we give Jesus 100% of our hearts.
Reading plan: Acts 9
Deeper reading plan: Nehemiah 7, 8
Prayer and meditation: Pray for the sick, pray for the lost and their loved ones. Pray for redemption for this lost world. Pray for a reviving rattle to shake COVID off this planet. And continue to pray for all those in medical professions, grocery stores, supply chain operators, first responders, and the amazing teachers still doing all they can to teach the students they love so much. Pray for all the businesses trying to recover and keep their associates able to provide for their families. Pray that the world can reopen without a surge of new COVID outbreaks. And pray that the world has undergone a lasting change and the flame of revival has been lit!
Fitness challenge: 2.5 mile run for time!
Serve Day Challenge: Serve, serve, serve. Food banks are delivering more food than ever before. They need donations and hands and feet to get food to needy families.