Some day I hope to preach a stewardship sermon on Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5!
I know, I know - the issue here is not really one of stewardship, but of deceit and of lying to the Holy Spirit. Still, I think it would make for an impressive message. Can you imagine how this whole episode went over with the early church?
"They gave a gift to the Church? And it wasn't big enough? And God struck them down? Let me get my checkbook!"
What do we know about the genuine reaction?
"Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events." (v. 11)
"No one else dared join them..." (v. 13)
Yet even though the Church lost two of its early members in spectacular fashion, the net effect was positive for the kingdom. Believers realized what a sin it is to misrepresent yourself and lie to the Holy Spirit. People outside the Church learned that our relationship with God is a serious business indeed. Despite "no one else" daring to join them, scripture testifies in the very next verse: "More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number." (vs. 14)
Is there anything in our lives (or in our churches) that we need to subtract in order to multiply?