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The Scriptorium

What's Good for the Gander

It's never right not to tell the truth. Acts 5.7-11

Sin, Surge, Suffering, Rejoicing: Acts 5 (2)

Pray Psalm 52.1-4.
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The goodness of God endures continually.
Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
You love evil more than good,
Lying rather than speaking righteousness.
Selah
You love all devouring words,
You deceitful tongue.

Sing Psalm 52.1-4.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.

Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words, both harsh and strong, with their devouring, deceitful tongue.

Read Acts 5.1-11; meditate on verses 7-11.

Preparation

1. Why was Sapphira as guilty as her husband?

2. What happened to her?

Meditation
Ananias’ wife, Sapphira, is given an opportunity to come clean and set matters straight (v. 8). Instead, she holds to the line the lying couple had agreed on, thus sharing in the sin of her husband.

Ananias and Sapphira had “agreed together” (v. 9) in this action, and in so doing they “tested” the Holy Spirit of God. We tend to think of the Spirit as the “Comforter.” But Peter makes it clear they weren’t testing His comforting skills, like people do today who excuse their sin by saying, “Yes, I know it’s wrong, but God loves me just as I am, and He understands and will forgive.”

Don’t be so sure.

What these people “tested” in the Spirit was the muscle of His holiness. He is the Holy Spirit, and He will defend His holiness, even if it entails severe and unpleasant discipline against the very people in whom He dwells (Heb. 12.3-11).

By now Peter knows the drill: What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. Again, Peter did not strike this woman down; he knew that God is consistent in His response to sin, and, as it turned out, he was right (v. 10).

The ongoing work of Christ is to replace the kingdom of darkness and the lie (Rom. 1.18-32) with the Kingdom of light, truth, and life, and to restore men and women to a proper relationship with God and one another. Churches are central as signs of the Kingdom and agents for healing, restoration, and reconciliation. In this ongoing work, discipline is sometimes necessary, and sometimes that discipline can be severe. See how this severe case effected for good the rest of the believing community (v. 11).

It is much sweeter to love the Lord Jesus than the fleeting and deadly desires of the flesh.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
There is a hierarchy to life that is important to follow. Not everybody can be in charge.

In the home it is the same. God over all, then a husband is responsible for his wife and children. The confusion ensues when positions are reneged upon, or any number of God’s laws are broken, and then nobody decides to stand for what is right. And the family becomes one more catastrophic casualty of the war against the enemy (Eph. 6.12).

In this scenario, Sapphira is not cut some slack because she “can’t” or “shouldn’t” speak against her husband. No, she was given an opportunity to not adhere to the “party line”.  Therefore, she is as culpable as her husband for lying.

She would have found success by telling the truth. She was given the opportunity to do so, because she is equally as responsible before God for her own behavior.

In the same way, none of us will be able to stand before God at the judgment and blame someone else’s bad behavior for our own bad response. The hierarchy ends at the judgment seat of Christ. No excuses will be received.

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (I Sam. 15.22).
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Prov. 21.3).

Any time we might be tempted to not do what is right, when we know it is right, because we think it is someone else’s responsibility to do it; or it is convenient to blame someone else for the transgression, but we don’t step in to do justice, we are as guilty as they. And lying is never okay, regardless of whom we have agreed with, even our spouse.

When in doubt, reread this story, for a good barometer on acceptable behavior.

For reflection
1. How can you know when you are being tempted not to be truthful? What should you do then?

2. What are the risks of standing for truth, when all around people are ignoring or excusing themselves from doing so?

3. Can the ongoing work of Christ go forward apart from the truth of God? Explain.

[T]his punishment was in reality mercy to vast numbers. It would cause strict self-examination, prayer, and dread of hypocrisy, covetousness, and vain-glory, and it should still do so. It would prevent the increase of false professors. Let us learn hence how hateful falsehood is to the God of truth, and not only shun a direct lie, but all advantages from the use of doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 5.1-11

Pray Psalm 52.5-9.
Pray that God’s truth will prevail over the lies that characterize so much of life in our day. Pray that He will use you, as you wait on Him, as an instrument of His truth.

Sing Psalm 52.5-9.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.

The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.

“But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!”

Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. For more about what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God, order a free copy of our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? (click here).

You can download any or all of the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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