Have you ever told a little white lie about money? What might a “money-lie” look like? Here are some examples I could think of:
*Exaggerating your net worth or monthly income on a blog post.
*Saying you got a better deal on an item than you really did.
*Telling someone who asked for money that you didn’t have any with you to give (ashamed to say I’m guilty here).
*Pretending you gave more to a cause than you actually did.
*Hiding or covering up your spending habits. (Guilty here as well and as you can read about here).
*Failing to report income earned in cash on your tax forms.
Why are we so apt to distort the truth? I think the core of the issue revolves around three main principles:
1. We are by nature selfish people. It takes effort to care about others’ interests.
2. We want the admiration of others. Therefore we try to make ourselves look better in their eyes.
3. We believe in rationalization and denial. We use these as tools to justify our actions.
The worst part about this is we are smart enough to know better. We know our deception will lead to consequences, yet we do it anyway. We fail to believe that the axiom, “Be sure your sin will find you out” applies to us.
You may not know this but that phrase has its origins in the Bible (see Numbers 32:23). And since it is Theology Thursday here at Luke1428, I want to share a story about a couple in the Bible who found this out the hard way when they told their own money-lie.
Bible history tells us the movement known as the church began in the book of Acts. The new converts were worshipping together and sharing their possessions and wealth to meet the church’s needs. In fact, were told in Acts 4 that a man named Barnabas sold a piece of property and gave the proceeds to the church. The implication in Acts 4:36-37 is that he gave all the money he received for the sale.
Shortly thereafter a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, also sold a piece of land and brought the proceeds to Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. However, they decided to keep back part of the proceeds for themselves (5:2). No big deal, right? That seems like a wise financial move – give to the church but set aside money to provide for your needs.
However, from a close reading and interpretation of verse 3, we realize they misrepresented to the church how much they actually sold the property for. They said the property had sold for “X” amount and they were giving ALL the proceeds of the sale to the church, when in fact that was not the case. That’s right…they lied to the church and to God.
Did I mention there are always consequences for lying? Peter’s rebuke of their deception was powerful and harsh (5:3-4). And God’s judgment for their deeds was swift and frightening as He chose to send a message to the early church that this type of behavior among believers would not be tolerated. There, at the spot where they told the lie, God supernaturally kills Ananias and Sapphira (5:5-10).
I know you probably have questions running through your head right now about what kind of a loving God would judge people this way. I’m not suggesting God is going to strike us down when we lie. If he did it would be a really lonely world. Instead, I would like to conclude this post by analyzing the motivation of Ananias and Sapphira because I think I see a link between their story and the actions of Barnabas that we can learn from.
I believe Barnabas’ generous donation and personal financial sacrifice was met with great applause within the circles of the church. Think of the eyeballs popping and the hushed whispers being spread through the congregation as Barnabas places his offering at the disciple’s feet. “He did what!? You mean he gave everything? What a sacrifice!” As word spread, I’m sure he received many pats on the back and was held in high esteem for his generosity. (None of this praise he was looking for by the way. His giving motives were pure.)
I have to believe Ananias and Sapphira wanted a piece of the praise-action Barnabas was getting. They wanted for people to lift them up on their shoulders and carry them off the field to thunderous applause. Their rationalized motives were selfishly motivated and it cost them big time.
It’s a huge trap we all can fall into – selfishly seeking the admiration of others. Lying about money issues can cost us relationships, our personal integrity, a job, and maybe our personal freedom should we choose a lie that leads to legal action. We can’t live in denial that we will escape consequences. You can be sure this type of sin, like all others, will find you out.
What other “money lies” can you think of? Do you have an experience or know of someone who lied about money and it backfired on them?
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