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Affluent Christian Investor | October 22, 2017

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Why God Killed Ananias and Sapphira


The Death of Ananias (1515) by Raphael

Next weekend, I speak in all five services at my local church. We are working our way through the book of Acts, and Acts 5 is up next on our schedule. That contains the rather bizarre and frightening story of Ananias and Sapphira, who died after their encounter with Peter and the church. Their story fits perfectly in to the series we have been looking at the last few weeks, so I thought I would use some of my notes for next week for this Memo.

We have been talking about the end of self, not really being the end but the beginning. The end of our self-willed self life opens the door to our God-assigned self life that includes our purpose, creativity, and personality. The statement that I will make in my message next week is that God cannot change us into the person we are already pretending to be.

Ananias and Sapphira conspired to misrepresent who they were, how generous they were, and how committed they were to the cause of God’s kingdom. They sold a piece of property, and let’s assume they sold it for $10,000. Then let”s assume they gave $8,000 to the church, but instead of saying that they gave 80% of the proceeds, they falsely indicated that they gave it all. Their sin was not holding some of the money back; their sin was pretending to have given it all when they had indeed kept some, thus lying not to Peter, but to the Holy Spirit.

In a sense, the couple were trying to find themselves, but they had not come to an end of themselves, pretending to be who they felt God wanted them to be. Instead of allowing God to change them, they played make-believe that they were already there. They acted like money had no hold on them, when indeed it did, but they were afraid to let anyone know that. So they carried out a charade, a fantasy skit, and it cost them the very lives they were trying to preserve, protect, and promote.

Where are you pretending to be someone you are not? Where are you faking it, but you have gotten so used to faking it that you believe the fake to be true? Yes, I should be obedient and act like I love a person who is difficult for me to love. But at some point, I have to say, “God, I cannot love this person. You have to help me. You have to change me. You have to love that person through me. I open my heart for You to change it.” If I don’t do that, I run the risk of becoming a good actor, but a poor disciple. I can actually believe I love that person when in my heart, I feel the opposite.

You may ask: How does this tendency to play act impact my purpose and creativity? If you are acting like you know your purpose when you really don’t, you are pretending to be who you are not. If you are acting like you are a creative person and just don’t create because you don’t have timewhen the fact of the matter is that you are terrified of your creativitythen you are play acting.

Now the good news is that in all probability, what happened to Ananias and Sapphira is not going to happen to you, for they were made examples for us all to learn from. But the lesson is clear from their story: When you pretend and live a lie, You are not dealing with flesh and blood. You are dealing with God, and it’s important that you not pretend to be who God wants to change you to be. For the rest of my message, be present or tune in next week to hear the message live or by video recording.


Originally published on the Monday Memo from John Stanko.

John Stanko was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Duquesne University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

Since then, John has served as an administrator, teacher, consultant, author, and pastor in his professional career. He holds a second master’s degree in pastoral ministries, and earned his Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh in 2011.

John founded a personal and leadership development company, called PurposeQuest, in 2001 and today travels the world to speak, consult and inspire leaders and people everywhere. From 2001-2008, he spent six months a year in Africa and still enjoys visiting and working on that continent, while teaching for Geneva College’s Masters of Organizational Leadership and the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most recently, John founded Urban Press, a publishing service designed to tell stories of the city, from the city and to the city.


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