Any pastor who preaches annual stewardship sermons knows that the Bible doesn’t say what we want it to say when it comes to financial giving. We’ll take free grace over Law every day of the year except “Commitment Sunday.” I’m talking, of course, about the Old Testament law of the tithe. If only we could convince our parishioners that Christ has set them free from every law except that one!
No one believes me when I point to the generosity of Zacchaeus or greed of the Rich Young Ruler and say, “See… Ten percent may not be enough for us Christians!”
All that to say, I like this insight concerning Ananias and Sapphira (in Acts 5:1-11) from Jeremy Coleman in The Mockingbird Devotional:
What’s terrifying, then, is that Ananias and Saphhira don’t drop dead for deceiving or withholding truth from God, but for believing what is untrue of God. They believe they must give something; that in order to be acceptable before God and church, something is required. Ananias and Sapphira hold as truth their requirements and pretenses, and reject the truth of Christ’s freedom. Because they believe their lives are being tallied, God takes their lives, leaving them in the only thing Jesus needs for their resurrection: their death.[†]
While I would have modified that first sentence (“…Ananias and Saphhira don’t drop dead merely for deceiving or withholding truth from God, but also for believing what is untrue of God.”), I still like it.
† Jeremy Coleman, “September 11” in The Mockingbird Devotional (Charlottesville, VA: Mockingbird, 2013), 311.