May 15 I Tuesday
2 Kings 22-23
“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?” —Acts 5:3
A 2002 University of Massachusetts Amherst study found that the average person will tell three lies within ten minutes of meeting someone new. Many of these lies are small and seemingly inconsequential, like telling someone we like their outfit when we really do not or convincing our kids to pretend they like a gift they are disappointed with. We may tell lies to get out of trouble, to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or because we think lying will benefit us in some way. That last reason describes Ananias and Sapphira perfectly.
Greed and hypocrisy were the motivations behind Ananias’s and Sapphira’s sin, and a lie was at its heart. Peter was angry because when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the church, they were deceiving the Holy Spirit, who is the lifeblood of the church. They allowed the devil a foothold in their hearts, which he clogged with the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. The physical stopping of their hearts mirrors the spiritual heart attacks they suffered.
The problem with lying is that it can quickly become habitual. One lie almost always leads to another, because when people push or question us about a lie we have told, we find ourselves forced to lie again to cover up the first one. Even if we do not get tangled in a growing web of lies, our consciences will grow so desensitized to lying that it will become easier to lie again. This is why we must be wary even of little white lies. Lying is the devil’s native tongue and the language of a corrupt heart. We are called to be truthful in all things and lying will choke our hearts, wreak havoc in our relationship with God and ruin our integrity in the eyes of others.
We may scoff at Ananias and Sapphira for lying in order to be commended by others, but for many of us, finances are an especially tempting place to allow deceit to creep in. It is estimated that the average church loses $120,000 a year to fraud. Some company owners dip into corporate funds to pay for private expenses or luxuries and write these off as business expenses. Those in charge of finances at work may have their jobs threatened if unwilling to alter the company’s numbers. The temptation to lie is a strong and common one, whether in finances or elsewhere, but God longs to fill our hearts with His integrity so we can courageously hold fast to what is right and true, even when it is costly.
Prayer: Gracious God, grant me Your strength to resist the temptation to lie. Remind me daily that truth and everything I need in life can be found in You and You alone. Thank You, Father.