Pure Motives {Acts 5}

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By Becky Bramlett Austin 

At the end of Chapter 4 there is a beautiful picture of a unified church spirit, "where the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (4:32)
There were cheerful, generous givers who sold their property and gave all of he proceeds to God.  Because of this generosity and community spirit, "there was not a needy one among them". 

The church was young and empowered by the Holy Spirit, but as in any church, Satan was present as well to twist and corrupt through those who would be influenced by selfish motive. Ananias and his wife Sapphira , also chose to sell their property but they pretended that they were generously donating the full proceeds as others had done.  They wanted the recognition of being faithful Christians within the church, but they agreed together to be deceptive and not disclose that they kept some of the money. 

Peter confronted Ananias making it clear that the sin was not in keeping the money because he was not obligated to give it.  The sin was in the deception and was against God directly. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God (5:3-4) Ananias and Sapphira  both died that day and it certainly got the attention of those who heard about it. 

I think that God wanted to establish through this example that he weighed the true motives of the heart and would not be mocked. He wanted this young church to remain pure of heart and purpose and he wanted to empower them to reach others through boldness of the proclaimed message of Christ as well as exemplifying Christ in deed and purpose. Verses 12-16 tell us that the apostles did many signs and wonders, including miraculous healings.  They were held in high esteem and many numbers were added to this growing church. 

The remainder of this chapter gives an amazing account of the apostles being imprisoned and God's intervention.“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”” (19-20). When God wanted his Word proclaimed, Satan was powerless to stop it. 

When the disciples were charged by the religious leaders for teaching about Christ, they answered  “We must obey God rather than men.” (29)  What a contrast to the selfish disregard of God that we saw in Ananias and Sophia. The apostles were 100% dedicated to God and his will, even willing to suffer to bring others to Christ. They were not looking for earthly gain but eternal gain. Just as in this early stage of the church, God is wanting to empower us to proclaim the Word and to exemplify Christ to the world.  He wants our 100% dedication, and he wants us to honor Him in what we do by having the right motives and being genuinely concerned about others.

In examining our motives I found these great questions from GotQuestions.org. ( The article also includes great verses for further study about motives: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-motives.html. )
1. If no one ever knows what I am doing (giving, serving, sacrificing), would I still do it?
2. If there was no visible payoff for doing this, would I still do it?
3. Would I joyfully take a lesser position if God asked me to?
4. Am I doing this for the praise of others or how it makes me feel?
5. If I had to suffer for continuing what God has called me to do, would I continue?
6. If others misunderstand or criticize my actions, will I stop?
7. If those whom I am serving never show gratitude or repay me in any way, will I still do it?
8. Do I judge my success or failure based upon my faithfulness to what God has asked me to do, or how I compare with others.

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