We’ve all done it. We’ve stretched the truth to appear more dramatic. We’ve fabricated a story to cover exactly what happened. We’ve told a white lie in order to not offend someone. But the Bible employs different words for those actions: deception, falsehood, unwholesome talk, and finally, lying lips.
Let’s move to a narrative in Scripture where our heroine possibly thinks,
It’s just a little lie, a little deception, and we’ll keep some of the money for ourselves.
Her name, Sapphira, means sapphire—a beautiful and precious gemstone—Sapir is the Hebrew word from which it originates. Perhaps her eyes were even a lustrous blue, but the jewel was flawed. God struck down Sapphira with a premature death, and we remember Sapphira for her sin rather than her beauty.
Acts chapter 5, verses 1-11 relays the story of Sapphira, along with her husband Ananias, and their deception in the early church of Jerusalem. Desiring the flattering praise of men, they conspired to sell some property, keep a portion of the money for themselves, yet present before the church the lower sum of money pretending it was the complete amount they received from the sale and not just a portion. When confronted with their deception, the Lord first put an end to Ananias’ life. Later, even after Peter the Apostle offered her an out, Sapphira chose to continue the lie. Then God struck her down.
Whoa! You are most likely thinking that’s a terrible and harsh reaction from God. Why would He kill them? They were certainly entitled to keep some of the money from the sale, but they fabricated a story saying what they “put at the apostles’ feet” was the complete, whole amount of money. The integrity of the early church was at stake and God was not going to tolerate lying. Just as lying has led to the downfall of many Christian leaders today, the early church had too much at stake for this type of sin to take root. It could have choked out the work God was going to do with and in the first believers adversely influencing the future of the church and the spread of Christianity.
What does this historical account mean for us today? You and I can ask ourselves these questions:
- What am I holding back? Have I fully surrendered my heart?
- Do I have a desire to be noticed? Am I seeking the applause of man rather than heaven?
- Am I allowing social media to tempt me to flaunt my good deeds? Am I seeking to “one-up” everyone else?
- Am I stretching the truth? Am I even telling downright lies?
- And finally, are these actions blocking or even stopping the work God wants to do in and through me? What effect does this have on His church?
Father God, Please forgive me of the sin of deception which has crept into my life. Please cleanse my heart of this evil and create a new heart. Please restore me to a life of integrity so your will and purposes can be accomplished in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Proverbs 11:3 (NIV): “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
Proverbs 12:22 (NIV): “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
John 8:44 (NIV): “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
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