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Beautiful Messes: Sapphira

“ sure your sin will find you out."1

When I was young, I remember teasing with my friends or siblings that if we told a lie then God would strike us down with lightning. We didn’t want to be anywhere near the person who told the lie for fear that we may be struck as well. In our innocence we played with this concept, but there was a couple in the Bible who met this very fate.

Sapphira, whose name literally means “Beautiful”, got herself into a mess she was unable to get out of. In Acts, Chapter 5, we read that she and her husband, Ananias, were among the very first Christians in Jerusalem. In the excitement of beginning a new ministry they, along with the rest of the new believers, decided to sell their properties and possessions and divide the money among those in need. These Christians had chosen a simple life. However, Ananias and Sapphira didn’t want to settle for the simple life, and so, it was decided (amongst themselves) that they would keep a portion of the money from the sale in secret. In the Old Testament, Moses had warned God’s people that they needed to be careful not to disobey God’s commands for their sins would surely be found out. Even so, throughout scripture we read of people, who when trying to hide from God, were most definitely found out. Sapphira and her husband were no exception. They had no reason to lie about the amount they had sold their property for, after all they had voluntarily done so. But when they were asked, first Ananias and then Sapphira lied about the amount of the sale. Both Husband and Wife were struck dead, not for withholding the money but for lying about it. Why had it been so hard to say: ”Peter, we decided to keep some of it for ourselves”? Why had they felt the need to be dishonest about it? Although they were believers and active members in their church, they just didn’t trust God enough to surrender all to Him. They also wanted the reputation that could be had from being known as generous people. Their mess was that they cared more of what others thought of them than what God thought of them.                 

When Sapphira was confronted about the money, her husband had already been struck down dead and she didn’t know it. I wonder if she had known, would she have confessed out of fear or continued with their lie? Sapphira was a blessed woman. She had her Salvation and her eternity secured. She had a good marriage and was part of a great spiritual family. Yet, for Sapphira, it was not enough. She had not grasped the concept of who God is and all that He has to offer His children. If she had, she would have realized that God would have supplied her every need. She also would have realized that God is not to be mocked; He cannot be deceived. (Gal. 6:7). Sapphira’s story is a clear reminder that as followers of Christ we are to be open and genuine, so that our living testimony of Him is pure.

Many might think that God dealt with them too severely. But their fate can also remind us that while God will usually allow us to suffer the consequences of our wrong actions, He is still all-loving, and his grace and forgiveness are among His greatest attributes.

Suggested Prayer:

Dear Merciful Lord, I cannot begin to express my gratitude for your forgiveness. I am undeserving of the grace you show me day after day. Thank you for leaving us stories like that of Ananias and Sapphira to remind me that I must be genuine if I want the world to see you in me. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

  1. Numbers 32:23b

All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.