Hiding the Real Me
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 5:1
While mired in my addiction, I spent a tremendous amount of time worrying about others finding out about it. I hated what I was doing, but I couldn’t stop, which made me feel horrible about myself. I attempted to balance this out by doing good. As a physician, I genuinely made an effort to provide quality care and to treat people well. Those were good works – but with a tainted motive. I was simply trying to hide my addiction. If people think I’m a good guy, they won’t suspect I’m an addict and will be less likely to believe it if someone accuses me.
This misdirection is somewhat similar to what happened in today’s passage. In the story, the early church was described as being so unified that the wealthy among them sold their properties to share the profits with those in need. One man, Barnabas, was specifically named and commended for selling a field and giving the entire proceeds to the apostles.
Not everyone lived so virtuously though. The applause given to Barnabas must have driven some to envy. One couple, Ananias and Sapphira, sold a piece of land, kept part of the profit for themselves, and pretended to give the whole amount to the church. They thought they could earn praise for their good works, while hiding their greed. They didn’t give the money out of love for God. They gave it to manipulate others into thinking they were wonderful, Godly people, while they simply lived for themselves.
Peter wasn’t fooled though. As he pointed out, it would have been better for them to simply have kept the field or kept all the money. It wasn’t a sin to own property or to be wealthy. Pretending to do good though, in an effort to hide evil, was revolting to both the apostles and to God.
The lesson for me is that I must always examine my motives. Am I doing good for the right reasons, or, am I just trying to distract from something? When I do good, am I doing it to follow God, or, am I just trying to hide the real me?