Sunday, June 15, 2014

Stolen Money

Stolen Money
June 16, 2014
Acts 5:3  "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?'"

We've all had tight times, financially.  Some of us have been unemployed and the bills have mounted up.  Some have more expenses at the end of the pay check on a regular basis.  We've all had times of plenty, as well.  We've had a little extra cash here and there, but it seems those moments are few and far in between and we somehow find a way to spend the extra.  When times are tight, though, we often get confused as to the right course of action.  In one such time in our household I told my wife we had just enough money for a specific bill OR we could pay our tithe, but not both.  She quickly told me to pay the tithe as she did not want stolen money in our house.  She answered correctly.  We don't always respond wisely, though.  One such example was Ananias and Sapphira.

In the New Testament, the apostles were doing a great job of community service.  The wealthy were selling their extra possessions and allowing the disciples to distribute the money to those in need.  Ananias and Sapphira were among the more fortunate, who agreed to sell a piece of land and give the money to the needy.  They agreed to sell the land; it as their idea.  Nobody asked them to do it, the Lord did not even require it of them.  They thought it was a good idea and wanted to honor the Lord with the full proceeds.  When the deal was finalized, however, they kept some of the money back for themselves.  Peter, who was full of the Holy Spirit, saw right though their rouse and called them out on it.  Both had originally agreed to give away the money if the property sold, and both of them agreed to keep a portion of the money after they had already promised it to the Lord.  That money became stolen money when they kept it for themselves.

The Lord didn't punish them for having the land, the Lord punished them for stealing from Him once they had promised to hand it over if the land sold.  Both of them dropped dead from keeping the money and lying about it.  This concept of stealing from the Lord was first described in the book of Malachi.  The Lord said when people keep money from Him, it becomes stolen money.  The Lord said people rob from Him if they do not bring it ALL to Him.

Stolen money is a big deal.  In every country around the world, having stolen money is punishable.  In some places, it is punishable by death even.  Sadly, though, we all make it about the money and not about the heart issue.  When we have someone else's money it is because our hearts think we deserve it more than they deserve it.  If you've ever not paid a tithe, it is because you thought you deserved it or needed it more than the Lord, even if the money was used to pay an important bill.

This is carried further when you realize the heart issue of keeping money from the Lord is akin to telling God that He is not Lord of your life.  Keeping your tithe or keeping something you promised the Lord is the same as telling Him you are lord of your own life.  That's pretty bold, but it is what our actions speak when we directly defy the Lord's wishes.  Go ahead and keep your tithe, but it is stolen money, a punishable offense.  If you've ever kept it and rationalized it away to ease your mind, you have become like Ananias and Sapphira.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Deut 28, Malachi 3:7-9, Acts 4:32-37, Acts 5:1-11

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