The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 5:1-6 describes a man named Ananias, who tries to make a show of his generosity. When other Christians are selling property and caring for others, Ananias and his wife sell a piece of property. Rather than honestly saying, “We sold some land and want to give this amount of money to help others,” they say, “We sold some land and are giving all the money to help others.” This is an attempt to deceive God and his people.
Peter’s response to Ananias can be taken in two ways. Maybe he is indignant and forceful. Maybe he is sad. I think the latter is the case. “Why did you choose to act like the deceiver? You had some property and it was yours. You could do what you wish with it. But you are trying to deceive God himself. This is your undoing, and it was completely unnecessary.”
Why do we try to deceive the living God? Surely all our attempts to lie, to cheat, to evade reality, to pursue personal gain while seeming to be selfless - they all are known to the God of all creation. May the Lord have mercy on us and help us to be straightfoward about our generosity and about what we retain for our own use. May the Lord guard our hearts and minds for our good and for the good of His kingdom.
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