Message: Two things really spoke to me in Acts
5 and they seemed like separate things, but they really aren’t. At the
beginning of the chapter, Ananias and Saphira saw other people selling their
land and donating the entire profit to the church. This was not a requirement.
It was something these men chose to do. Ananias and Saphira sold a piece of
their land but conspired together to hold back an amount but tell the apostles
they were donating the entire profit. Peter called them out because their
motives were not the same as the others. They were looking for the praise and
approval of men, and in doing so they lied in order to get it. Nobody told them
they had to sell their land, and they had every right to donate whatever they
wanted, but they dishonored God by lying about it. Toward the end of chapter 5,
when it was discovered that Peter and John were miraculously let out of jail
during the night, the Sanhedrin council was meeting to discuss what to do with
them. Gamaliel, a well-respected Pharisee dismissed the apostles outside and
advised the council to “be careful what you do”. If this work was truly of man,
it would be overthrown, but if this was the work of God, they could not stop
it, and they may even find themselves fighting against God.
Command: Deal with people honestly and
truthfully because everything we do with people, we are actually doing toward
Promise: If we are honest and truthful with people,
we will not find ourselves fighting against the plans and the work of God.
Instead we will find his favor.
Warning: Even if we fool people, or manipulate
plans to fit our own agenda, we are doing ourselves in because we are actually
doing this to God. It might seem like we are getting away with it for a while,
but he will not be mocked, and our plans won’t stand up against his.
Application: Initially when I read through his
chapter, I saw these two stories as separate topics. Both are very familiar
stories. What I really saw in them both was the bigger picture that literally
every interaction we have with people should be considered as if we are interacting
with God himself. When we lie to people we are lying to God. When we manipulate
situations, we are attempting to manipulate God. The difference here is that
even if we get away with lying to people, or manipulating plans, we cannot get
away with doing it to God. He knows and sees literally everything we do, think,
say- even subconsciously. He sees our inner thoughts and motives and even if we
lie to ourselves, we can’t get away with lying to God, even if it seems like
for a while, we are getting away with it. The advice that Gamaliel gave to the
Sanhedrin council was solid. He recognized that God had all authority and
knowledge of all things. It seemed that even though the council recognized the
hand of God moving in situations, for some reason their foolish pride really
believed they could put a stop to God’s work and preserve their positions. This
seems crazy, but when I really think carefully, I have to wonder how many
things I believe I can control by working the system with people. Maybe
creating an inaccurate or slightly embellished image, or maybe influencing
plans for or against other people to give myself an advantage or make myself
look better. None of this happens out of the view of God. He sees everything
and even if it appears to be working, look out! God will not me mocked!