A Bad Agreement in Marriage
Scripture: Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Acts 5:9 (NKJV)
Observation: Ananias and Sapphira were members of the early Christian Church. The church members were very generous and unselfish. Chapter four of Acts ends with these words describing the church: Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. Acts 4:32-37 (NKJV)
Ananias and Sapphira might ave started off with good intentions in their heart. They probably did have the desire to sell their property and to give the proceeds to the church. But evidently when they realized how much that would mean, probably more than they had anticipated, they decided to give only part of the proceeds. Ananias came first to present what he thought was a sizeable offering only to be confronted by Peter to tell the truth. When he lied, he died. Sapphira then came and was given the opportunity to tell the truth, but she too chose to lie and also died.
Ellen White describes these events: Ananias and Sapphira grieved the Holy Spirit by yielding to feelings of covetousness. They began to regret their promise and soon lost the sweet influence of the blessing that had warmed their hearts with a desire to do large things in behalf of the cause of Christ. They thought they had been too hasty, that they ought to reconsider their decision. They talked the matter over, and decided not to fulfill their pledge. They saw, however, that those who parted with their possessions to supply the needs of their poorer brethren, were held in high esteem among the believers; and ashamed to have their brethren know that their selfish souls grudged that which they had solemnly dedicated to God, they deliberately decided to sell their property and pretend to give all the proceeds into the general fund, but really to keep a large share for themselves. Thus they would secure their living from the common store and at the same time gain the high esteem of their brethren. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 72)
While the immediate punishment might seem harsh, God needed to protect the early church from going astray. Again, Ellen White writes: Infinite Wisdom saw that this signal manifestation of the wrath of God was necessary to guard the young church from becoming demoralized. Their numbers were rapidly increasing. The church would have been endangered if, in the rapid increase of converts, men and women had been added who, while professing to serve God, were worshiping mammon. This judgment testified that men cannot deceive God, that He detects the hidden sin of the heart, and that He will not be mocked. It was designed as a warning to the church, to lead them to avoid pretense and hypocrisy, and to beware of robbing God. (AA p.73)
Application: The influence of a spouse can serve as a great blessing or a horrible curse. When one spouse takes step in the direction opposite to God’s will, the consequences can have devastating results for the other spouse, to their children, and to many others. Our first allegiance should lways be to God. The first of the ten commandments states it clearly: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me” Exodus 20:2-3 (NKJV). Jesus also quoted Old Testament writings to answer the question as to which is the greatest commandment by saying: So he answered and said, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself' " Luke 10:27 (NKJV). Jesus made it clear than in our priority list God should always take first place and then everybody else. Our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends. . .no one should ever take first place before God.
In marriage, then, it is the individual responsibility to have this order of priorities straight and maintain God first in our lives. If or when one spouse takes steps contrary to this order, the other spouse cannot simply agree and go along with the other. One of those areas where couples could fail is similar to that of Ananias and Sapphira. When it comes to returning God’s tithe to Him and presenting offering to the church to further its ministry, many couples have disagreements and in many cases defraud God. Ellen White writes: “The same sin was often repeated in the afterhistory of the church, and it is committed by many in our time; but though not attended with the visible manifestation of God's displeasure, it is no less heinous in His sight now than in the apostles' time. The warning has been given, God has clearly manifested His abhorrence of this sin, and all who pursue a similar course of action may be sure that they are destroying their own souls. . . .”(Christian Service, p. 312).
The spouses should agree early in their marriage, in fact before their marriage, what portion of their finances belongs to God and what part they will give to the church, and then both should encourage each other to be faithful to that commitment. If the time comes when one chooses to go back on that commitment, the other should not simply go along but they should remain faithful to God. By doing so, not only are they keeping their individual commitment of generosity and obedience to God, thus protecting their eternal salvation, but they would also be serving as an example to their spouse that they may repent and return to their walk with God. Agreeing in what is wrong could spell out devastation and death not just to one of the spouses but to both, to their marriage and ultimately to their children.
A Prayer You May Say: Father, help us to remain faithful and true to You first and always, and may we help each other, as spouses, to keep You first in each other’s life for each other’s sake and for the sake of our children and others.
Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
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