REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 1, 2016, is provided by Pastor Mark Chun who pastors Radiance Christian Church in S. F. He studied biology at University California, San Diego and completed his Master of Divinity at Talbot School of Theology.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Trap of Appearing Holier”
Acts 5:7-11 (ESV)
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
As we look again at the judgment incurred by Ananias and Sapphira, we see the clear warning given by Peter against testing or lying to the Spirit of God. We may not consider this sin very often, but it is more common than we realize. Tom Constable, a theologian at Dallas Seminary describes this particular sin as follows: “Lying to the Holy Spirit is a sin that Christians commit frequently today. When Christians act hypocritically by pretending a devotion that is not there or a surrender of life that they have not really made, they lie to the Holy Spirit. If God worked today as he did in the early Jerusalem church, undertakers would have much work.”
For Ananias and Sapphira, there was no reason to lie about the amount of money they were offering to the Lord. There was no obligation to sell their property and certainly no pressure to give the full amount of the sale. What they had committed to give was strictly a free will offering, and no one would have faulted them for committing less than the entire amount. Yet, they were driven to lie needlessly in order to build a reputation of godliness and sacrifice that was not genuine.
In the context of the previous chapter, this couple had witnessed the accolades and praise that were given to Barnabas, and it appears that they wanted that for themselves. Sadly, they failed to realize that God doesn’t look just at how much we give but more importantly God examines the reasons why we give. The final worth of our service to the Lord will be weighed by the motives of our heart, not by the final line on a budget sheet. Without the prerequisite of a pure and humble heart, what we vow to the Lord will not amount to much.
Who among us hasn’t felt that tinge of pride when we do something charitable or make a grand gesture of commitment to God? This happens to the best of us; and it reminds us of the subtle but real danger of making a show of our religious devotion in order to increase our own sense of worth and significance. However, if this is our sole motivation, then Jesus’ warning to us is that “we have received our reward in full.” Heart motivation is what authenticates every religious activity we undertake in the name of God, whether it is giving our offerings or sacrificing our time and energy to serve the church.
Prayer: Father, we confess that our motives are not as pure and that our hearts are not as contrite as they should be. Help us to see the dangers of self-deception, and the subtle way we look to promote ourselves at the expense of Your glory. Holy Spirit, would You search our hearts today so that we would be aware of the ways in which we test You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 40
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 21:1-4 (ESV): Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Questions to Consider:
- What do you think that Jesus is saying on the topic of giving as he compares the gifts of the rich with the two copper coins of the widow?
- How should we respond, given the main point of this story?
- There are three main theories in regards to the point that Jesus is trying to make in this passage: First, the measure of one’s gift does not involve how much one gives but how much remains; second, a gift is measured by the spirit in which it is given; and third, one’s giving should be commensurate with one’s means.
- I believe that there is truth in each of these theories, but I would lean towards the first point because nothing is actually indicated about the inner motives of the widow. Most likely, Jesus correlated the widow’s actions with the right heart. After all, she gave what little she had to live on, which exemplified a generosity towards God, a trust in His provision, and a willingness to commit everything as an expression of love for her God.
Jesus tells us that in order to follow him, we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily. When is the last time you have sacrificed or surrendered something in order to obey God? Have you given or served to the point that it has made your life uncomfortable or at least inconvenient? Pray about ways you can live sacrificially for the sake of Christ and the gospel.