I’m going to be teaching from Acts 5 in the Ananias and Sapphira passage. Might seem like a strange passage for this topic, but stay with me. Three times in the book Luke mentions how powerful the work of God was as illustrated by people selling their properties for the common good. Seems this is proof positive that the Spirit had touched people’s hearts. When people let go of possessions, you know something is happening.
Ananias and Sapphira want to be part of this exciting movement. They want to be included among the people doing the big giving. They want that sense of status. So they misrepresent their gift. They want to be thought of as better than they really are. Peter calls it lying to the Holy Spirit, and, to say it mildly, is treated very seriously. Peter makes it clear that they were under no obligation to give. Or under an obligation to give the entire amount. If they had just honestly given what they wanted to give, it would have been fine. But they wanted more credit than was actually true.
This has application to giving, but even more, I think, to how we represent ourselves. When we want to be thought of as more generous, more caring, more spiritual, or more sacrificial than we actually are, we are also lying to the Holy Spirit and the church. How tempting it is to present a slightly polished version of ourselves. I find myself battling this every week. It seems the less dramatic answer is to only claim what is actually true even if it’s not very impressive. Under-promise and over-deliver in how we think of ourselves, and how we present ourselves. This means we can admit we’re beginners where we are beginners, and not strain to attain some spiritual status that is false. Maybe true spiritual status is not claiming any status. That’s Authenticity.