Hey everyone! First and foremost, I hope you had an awesome week and are having a good weekend so far! We wanted to thank you for tuning into Table Church tonight. We are excited that you took a little bit of your time out of your Saturday evening to join our family!
With restaurants, stores and other places starting to open back up here, where’s the one place that you are going to go first when it opens up? Has that place already opened back up? Use a GIF or comment on the live stream of that place. I have a list of 3 different places that was a top priority. There is Disney because that’s somewhere as a family we love to do together but also it’s our time away from our house! Another was to get my haircut! I have never grown my hair out that much and I feel like it was like 5 additional pounds on the scale because my hair is so thick. The other is somewhere to relieve stress and that’s to get a massage. Kristen and I love to go as a couple to get massages so we were blessed to go on this monthly plan. We had two done before everything started closing up and you know dealing with stress either with work or kids, that time away is crucial.
Tonight we are going to talk about a tough topic in Acts 5. If you are new with us tonight, we are taking an in depth but practical study throughout the book of Acts. After you get done watching this, if you missed the previous devotions, I would just encourage you to find a bit of time, go back and rewatch them.
Too often we find churches discuss the soft, cushy subjects that we want to hear. Maybe you have heard this visual before but it’s like someone you know who is interviewing you, they ask you what we call a “softball” question where it’s something so easy and the answer that we respond with makes us feel good but also makes us look really good. The thing is the Bible has so many good things that make us feel good but it’s the truths that we don’t want exposed that we tend to take a sharpie marker through. Tonight is one of those topics. So if you can go ahead and pull out your bibles and turn to the end of Acts 4 and we will be going into Acts 5. But we need a bit of context at the end of Acts 4 to understand the first part of Acts 5.
Acts 4:36-5:11: “36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet." Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”
I know what you are thinking...please Mike don’t talk about money! I want to reassure you that we won’t be talking about money...tonight. Actually this topic is much deeper than money. What we see here in these verses is that Ananias sought the glory of men and not the glory of God. The truth is that Ananias was a schemer and he got called out by Peter. Peter accuses him of scheming and then also asked his wife why she agreed to this? Ananias said look at me when it came to showing that he gave everything but the truth was both him and his wife pocketed some of that money. It wasn’t that they kept some of the money, it’s that they lied about it. Ananias made a pretense of having given all the proceeds. Peter exposed them by saying that it doesn’t matter that you lied to me but you lied to God, you lied to the Holy Spirit. What Peter exposed here is something that hurt the church back then but is still hurting the church now; and that’s hypocrisy!
Hypocrisy hurts so deep but it’s so prevalent in our society and our walks with God. Let me give you the definition of hypocrisy before we go any further.
Hypocrisy is a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc. that one does not really possess.
Hypocrites grab a hold of the language when their hearts aren’t there. Hypocrites grabs hold of the action and doesn’t understand the heart of the matter. We see in this passage of scripture that both Ananias and his wife saw Barnabas give everything after he sold a field of his own. It’s the concept of lying about giving everything that got them into trouble and ultimately they died from it. I’m not saying that we are going to die on the spot like these two did but the truth of the matter is that lying and being hypocrites, we are driving those nails deeper and deeper into Jesus.
So often I hear why people don’t view Christianity so highly is because they view people who proclaim to be Christians as hypocrites. Usually they see a moral failure in someone that proclaims Jesus as their Lord and savior. Their view of Christianity is one of perfection. I want to point out two things before we keep going.
1. We are all sinners who are in need of grace. 2. We are not perfect! We are made perfectly in God’s image and his eyes but in our human form, we are not perfect. If I were to call our Christian walk something, it would be that we are on a journey towards perfection.
Now how can we combat hypocrisy. How can we start on the road to correct it.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Proverbs 27:17: “17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
We need people in the trenches of life that knows us and everything we are dealing with. The problem is that we rarely open the door for anyone to come in. Our emotions and our feelings belief that we are going to be judged harshly for our past and probably our present! We don’t want anything negative to come into our lives because we want to live in this bubble where only good happens! We only want the pastor to preach and teach on the topics that bring joy to our lives. The truth is that we only want it to be a one way street. We want to express truths in other peoples lives but when they express the truths in our lives, we want no part of it. Aren’t we being hypocritical at that point? What’s that saying... “You can’t have your cake and eat it too?” We can’t obey the command of loving others without allowing others to love us!
We are rarely willing to have the type of relationships that will expose where we are blind. We fail to walk in community in a way that reveals what is really going on in our hearts, minds and lives. Most of us have difficulty being vulnerable with others. It’s not a natural thing. But what vulnerability is, it’s a God thing! When we refuse to walk in the type of community that can support us, hear us and encourage us, hypocrisy will flourish. We need to have relationships that we invite someone to speak into our lives in ways we don’t want anyone speaking into our lives. We need to have relationships that are built around our weaknesses.
We may already have that person when it comes to our spouse. That’s awesome, but who else do you have? The second greatest commandment doesn’t say love other. It says love others which is plural meaning more than one.
In going through this process, being really direct and honest with you all on this one. Doubt and struggle will happen. The doubt and struggle will be in our minds, well what if that person betrays me. That may happen. Doubt and struggle should not be viewed as a weakness among the people of God. It should be viewed as part of the journey.
I met up with Phil Lewis, who some of you may know, a while ago to talk about Table Church. One of the pieces of advice he gave me and it’s so good that I believe everyone should hear it. There are fans and then there are friends. Fans are like cheerleaders and they cheer you on and tell you things that you want to hear. Then there are friends who will give it to you straight, be on your side and ask the tough questions. We need both in our lives, but I can’t help but think if Ananias and his wife, who were followers of God, had a friend or two in their lives, the end result could have been different for them.
I want to leave you with a few quotes tonight.
“I know of only two alternatives to hypocrisy: perfection or honesty.” – Philip
Yancey What’s So Amazing About Grace
“Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.” – Warren Wiersbe