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Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira

Thursday, April 5

A Piggy Bank of Trust

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

a bank of trust

This is an alarming story, for sure! The early Christians were banding together to help the cause grow. People were pooling their resources -- their time, their money, their possessions -- to support the missionaries. Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, were among the early community asked to contribute. So together, they sold their land intending to give the proceeds to the community. But they decided instead to lie about the sale price and keep some of the proceeds for themselves. It was a decision that cost them both their lives.

Their error wasn't in keeping some of the money. Peter pointed out that the land was theirs, and the money from the sale was theirs, too. Their sin was in the deception they intended upon the community. By lying, they were undermining the trust that was essential for their survival. They didn't have much, but trust was one thing they could not live without. Think about it -- the consequence of betrayal was death -- if they had turned on each other and reported their activities and whereabouts to the authorities, they could have been arrested, tortured, or executed. They literally trusted each other with their lives. 

The consequences for us lying today might not be death. But the erosion of trust can be devastatingly consequential. When we cannot trust each other, we learn to distrust anyone or anything -- even ourselves. Trust is like coins in a piggy bank (remember those?). If trust is built over time, then the bank can withstand minor failings. A few coins removed from a pile can be fairly easily replaced. But when there are no coins in the bank, a breach in trust is like breaking open the piggy bank, and once broken, it is extremely difficult to repair and rebuild. In today's world, where lying is commonplace and trust is hard to come by, might we become trustworthy? Might we learn to trust others, even though it comes with the risk of being burned?

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 5:1-11

But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.