Read Acts 4

Highlights:

Peter and John imprisoned; death of Ananias and Sapphira; Stephen's arrest, message, and stoning.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common (Acts 4:32).

One of the remarkable characteristics of this first church of Jerusalem was the spirit of oneness that manifested itself in the people's willingness to give up material possessions. Wealthy believers sold their lands or houses and brought the money to be used for the Lord's ministry and for those who did not have enough for their family needs. The program of sharing wealth in the early church was purely a voluntary one. What if the wealth of the church were mobilized in today's society just as in the New Testament? Few would be hungry or could say they had not heard the Gospel or they did not have the basic needs of life. True godly love will meet needs. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (I Cor. 13:3).

A certain man in the church decided to sell some property and give to the poor. Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possesion, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet (Acts 5:1-2). As long as the land belonged to Ananias, he could do with it as he chose; and even after he had sold it, the money was his to do with as he pleased. All the selling of property and giving of money was voluntary.

It appears that Ananias had a desire to imitate Barnabas, the man of Cyprus who, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet (4:37).

Ananias' sin was not in keeping part of the money, but in pretending to have “one heart” in surrendering all his possessions. Ananias anticipated praise and recognition to which he was not entitled. Satan had filled his heart with a desire to gain a reputation as a generous and self-sacrificing giver while keeping part of the money for his own use. We should never seek praise for our gifts to the Kingdom of God. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 6:1).

In every community, there are people like Ananias and Sapphira who outwardly uphold the Christian faith, but their inward desire is to put self first. But the Holy Spirit knows the difference.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over . . . For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).

Thought for Today:

God knows us as who we really are not as what we want others to think we are.

Cross References:

For Acts 4:11: See Ps. 118:22. Acts 4:25-26: See Ps. 2:1-2.

Word Studies:

5:2 being privy to it, knowing of it, she helped plan the deception; 6:11 suborned, influenced to do wrong, bribed.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Government Officials: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA), Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX), and Rep. Bill Johnson (OH) • Country: Egypt (66 million) in northeastern Africa • Major languages: Arabic and English • Christians are not permitted to evangelize Muslims • 87.5% Muslim; 12% Christian; .5% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Pray that God will teach you His ways and transform your life by His Word (Is. 2:3).

Memory Verse for the Week: Titus 3:3