Scripture is full of references to the fraudulence and insincerity of God’s people. You could say that it’s a recurring theme. Or maybe it’s just our sinful nature.
Micah 6:1-8 features a snide human response to what God requires for God’s people to be regarded as righteous: ‘Does the Lord God require thousands of animal sacrifices, ten thousand rivers of oil, or my firstborn?’ The prophet Micah responds with the memorable: ‘What does the require of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’
We consider Malachi 5:6-14 where God through his prophet calls out the Temple priests for only sacrificing to God the unacceptable, unmarketable animals. The priests are keeping the good stuff to sell for their own benefit, and burning up in sacrifice the bad stuff as the offering to God. It’s as if the priests figured that God wouldn’t mind, or wouldn’t notice, or in any case wouldn’t know the difference. Not so.
In Acts 5:1-11, there is community of shared goods and wealth that is an interesting feature of the earliest followers of Jesus, in Jerusalem anyway. Acts 4 has several accounts of people converting their property and assets and bringing the funds to the community. But then there is Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 5. They sell their property and decide to deceive the other Jesus people in the community. They hold back some of the proceeds but pretend that they’ve given all of it. Someone rats them out and Peter has interesting conversations with them, one at a time. What happens next?
Both scriptures should have us asking ourselves about the nature of our giving and its sincerity. There are some ways of understanding our giving that ought to put things in perspective. Where to start?
To see what this is all about, there is the sermon video below, and note the downloads available below the video panel.