Which Scripture passage comes to mind when you think, “Faking Spirituality”? Do you remember the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira? If not, please allow me to refresh your memory. You can read the full account in the Acts of the Apostles (see Acts 5:1-11).
After Pentecost, having been empowered by the Holy Spirit, the believers lived in love and shared everything, even their possessions. Those who had property sold it and brought the money to the Apostles to benefit the entire community, although it wasn’t required. They did it, because it was the right thing to do, as expressed by John, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17 NIV). They did it joyfully, not looking for any recognition, for God loves a cheerful giver (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).
One couple, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, like the others, sold a piece of property. The two agreed to give only part of the proceeds to the Apostles for community use, and that was their right (see 2 Corinthians 9:7). However, when Ananias brought the money, he wanted the Apostles to believe that he brought the total amount. Sapphira, coming in a few hours after her husband’s report, not knowing what had transpired earlier, confirmed her husband’s report, which was a lie. Needless to say each was rebuked sharply by the Holy Spirit, and they were buried side-by-side, a few hours apart (see Acts 5:4-10). It was a good lesson for the rest of the group, and it should be a lesson for us as well.
Ananias and his wife were not rebuked for surrendering only part of the money; they were rebuked for deception. They were trying to give the impression that, like the others, they had surrendered all.
Do you ever pretend to be something that you really are not? Do you like to tell others how often you read your Bible, how much time you spend in prayer, how you do this, that and the other good work? Think about it! Do you try to impress others with how often you fast, give to charity, and so forth?
Do you criticize others when you are guilty of the same thing? Do you put others down so you can appear to be better? (See Matthew 7:6). God wants you to be yourself. He sees what you are and what you do, and why. He will take it from there. “Your’ Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:18 NIV). You don’t need the applause and commendation of men. God will reward you in due time.
Jesus called the Pharisees, “Whitewashed tombs” because they were such hypocrites, “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Matthew 23:27). That definitely is “Faking Spirituality.”