As I was studying for this Sunday's message, I was reading once again the passage about lying to God. The passage in Acts 5 where a husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira collaborated together to lie to the apostles and others in the church, and ultimately end up lying to God.
The lesson from Ananias and Sapphira lying to God has always troubled me
I will be honest. This passage has always given me some trouble. I find it hard to accept the harshness of their punishment with a theology of grace. Yet in my 32 years of being a believer I have seen on 2 occasions where God was finished striving with an individual and called them home instantly. One incident was with a person who had a history of causing strife within any church he attended. He had been confronted on this issue many times yet continued to do it. His family and home life was in complete disarray with his wife and children suffering. One day as the man was walking down the street, He just keeled over with a massive heart attack and died. The other incident was with a woman who was keeping books for the church. One day while she was tending her roses, she also just keeled over with a heart attack. Later it was discovered that she had been putting entries into the church books of donations being given by her that were not given.
I am not saying that God killed these people. However both of them were incidents where they died unusually since they both were not diagnosed with any heart disease, nor were they old by any means of the word. Both were in mid-life. This leads me to at least speculate that they were guilty of lying to God and that it had a tragic effect on their life.
So as I look at the story of Ananias and Sapphira lying to God, I must question myself.
Am I guilty of engaging in behavior or attitudes that would lead down the path of lying to God, or have I allowed myself to engage in the folly of trying to fool God? Seriously, If I actually think I can lie to God, I have to be deluded because He knows everything. Yet many times we still behave as if He didn't.
Here are the areas that I found needed to be evaluated to make sure that I was not inadvertently or out of some type of ingrained habit, trying to fool God and in doing so end up lying to God.
I asked myself these questions.
- Am I trying to portray to God an outward appearance that I have it all together? In other words, am I trying to convince or show God that I am the next best thing to cotton candy? This is very tempting to do because in the world we live in, there is both a cultural ideology, and a pattern of living that rewards the successful and punishes the weak. We are not allowed to show that we are not all together because of the social and financial ramifications if we do. This gets transferred over to our relationship with God. We think that if we admit we are not all put together, that if we admit weakness, then somehow it will have a negative effect on how God views us and how He treats us. This in effect, leads us to lying to God. We end up concealing what we really are like, and portraying a falsehood to Him. I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion in my life. It has never led to good things, but has always led in some shape or form to destruction just as with Ananias and Sapphira.
- Am I hiding my true emotional state from God? Again, we live in a society that does not want to deal with certain types of emotions and rewards others. I grew up being told that men don't cry. We have the temptation in church not to be honest about how we are feeling and instead putting on the mask that everything is fine and "I am blessed" because if you are not blessed, then something must be wrong with you. There is an over abundance of emphasis that is placed on being blessed and how everything is supposed to be good if you are a Christian, which is not biblically accurate. Am I being honest with God about how I am feeling? If I am struggling with a particular person or if I am discouraged in what I am doing, am I being honest with God about that, or am I trying to hide the fact because I am worried that He will condemn my feelings? David was called a man after God's own heart, yet He always was honest with God about how he was feeling. Read the Psalms and you will find out that David was transparent with the Lord about how He was feeling. He did not try to lie, or hide from God what He was feeling.
- Am I being honest with God about the level of my spiritual maturity? Again, especially within the church culture, we try for some insane reason to prove to one another that we have obtained a higher level of spiritual maturity. It is as if we have a performance mentality within the church. We strive to master the bible, or we strive to operate more in spiritual gifts, or we strive to serve in every area of the church. Now these things are not bad in and of themselves, but when we are doing it to prove something, then they become hindrances. God knows how mature we really are, and if we have allowed ourselves to take on the performance mentality, then we are tempted to hide our lack, and only show what we think we have achieved thus in essence, lie to God. Remember lying is not always overt. It is not always about what we blatantly say that is false, but it is the attempt to obscure or hide the truth. I have to ask myself the question, "Am I engaging in behavior, or do I have an attitude, that hides or obscures the truth?"
Now if you are like me, after doing that level of introspection, you did not come away unscathed. I know that I didn't. However the end result for me was not condemnation but hope. Because I know that once I get honest with God about where I am in life, and stop trying to hide things or downright lie to God, that the real issues, the real feelings, the real motives can be dealt with. And with that comes true growth that is from the inside out. No longer am I heading down a path of destruction either personally or spiritually, but I am heading in the direction of life and life more abundantly.
So instead of following the path of Ananias and Sapphira, will you join me on a journey of being honest with God and letting go of the pretenses?
Now that is something to think about!
This article was first published on my website called Taber's Truths