Yesterday I was reading in Acts chapter 5 and I was struck (again) with the most human emotions!  Specifically, I was reading the part where Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead.  Let me back up and give you the run-down of this story so that my initial reaction makes a bit more sense, after all, it always feels good to justify yourself.

Ananias and Sapphira agreed to liquidate some of their assets to be able to make a sizeable donation to the church.  Right at that time many of the believers were doing this; selling the things they had, donating the money to the church, and then the money would be distributed to the people as needs arose.  In my mind it’s the idea of communal living at it’s purest; in fact that was one of the ways that early Christians were recognized, by their care-taking of each other.  Anyway, back to the story.

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, saw what was going on, and it appears they wanted to be part of the giving group. The problem is that they were acting with unpure motives; you see, they agreed to lie about the amount for which they sold the field so they could keep part of the proceeds for themselves.  A sort of a return on their investment, only in wrapped in a lie.

Ananias approached the apostles first.  When he offered the money to them, he was questioned about why he was lying about the sale price of the land.  The apostles pointed out that he wasn’t just lying to men, but lying to God.  Immediately Ananias fell down dead, was carried out, and buried.

Obviously, Sapphira hadn’t heard about what happened to her husband because about three hours later she approached the apostles.  I’m suspecting that she was expecting to get praise for the gift Ananias had brought earlier.  Instead, the apostles gave her a second chance of a sort; they asked her about the price of the field, and very easily she lied to them and said, “Yes, we sold it for that amount.”  (That would be the “altered” price her husband had reported.  You have to give them credit for sticking to their story.)

You guessed it, the men who carried her husband out to bury him returned.  The apostles told her that they would carry her out next to join her husband, and she immediately fell over dead.  She was removed and buried next to her husband.

That’s where my human emotions got me every time.  Part of my not-so-nice, judgemental spirit came out each time I read that portion of the Bible.  That mean-girl part of me was cheering God on, “Go get them!  They lied! Serves them right!”  It gave me a great sense of satisfaction that they got what was coming to them, justice was delivered swiftly, and (in my most gotcha spirit) they were made an example of to prevent further disobedience.

This time, after reading it, I was struck with my familar holier-that-thou attitude toward Ananias and Sappira; however, another emotion blind-sided me just as quickly.  I became very convicted of all the times I tried to lie about why I was doing what I was doing.  I think it’s pretty normal to want people to think well of you.  I know in the past I based most of my decisions on what others would think of me rather than on what God would think of me.  Suddenly, that instant and severe impuning of judgement didn’t sound so lovely.  I realized just how often I am just as guilty as Ananias and Sapphira, not of exactly lying about finances; but guilty of fudging the truth to make others think that I’m “better” than I am.

The question I was pondering after reading yesterday was, “How often do I come before God expecting Him to buy what I’m telling Him?” I spent time delving into the interior of who I am.  How often do I know, deep inside, that I’m not being real with my feelings or my reactions? God knows everything about me.  It isn’t like I can say (successfully) that I’m not actually where I am emotionally or relationally; He knows.  It doesn’t work to pretend that I’m doing something for one reason, when in fact, my true motivation comes from a completely different source; God knows the truth.  It doesn’t help me to walk the walk and talk the talk when it’s all for show, because God knows who I am inside and out.  He knows all the stuff about me that I’d rather not have anyone realize was in there.

The remarkable part is that He loves me anyway.  He may not love everything I do, or everything I think, or everything I say; but He always loves me.  He always wants me to grow and learn from my mistakes; He may not remove consequences, but He always loves me. He always wants me to strive to control my actions and reactions; He knows I won’t get it right, but He always loves me, even in the middle of my mess.

He loves you in the middle of your mess too.  The choice to accept that love is yours to make; He’s holding it out as a gift to you right now. All you have to do is receive it.

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