What sets the church apart from every other organization? Consider all the benevolent organizations in the world that are dedicated to good causes. What makes the church different? I see two things in today’s Scripture – grab your Bible and read Acts 4:32-5:11. Luke wrote, “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). Unity is the first point that stood out. Their focus was caring for one another and proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (v. 32-33). The first is at the heart of today’s Scripture lesson, but the second, declaring the gospel, was – and still is – the mission of the church and we’ll see that as we continue through Acts and into the history of the church.
The first believers were selfless and “shared everything they had” so that “there were no needy persons among them” (vs. 32, 34). We’ve been through some very tough times financially, but God put us on someone’s heart and they met our needs with gracious plenty. I am forever grateful for their compassion and the Lord’s provision.
Not only did the believers share out of their own supply, but they often sold property and brought the money to the church for distribution. And this brings us to another distinguishing mark of the church: integrity. A man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property and brought some of the money to the apostles as an offering. But he told them it was the full amount. The Lord was not pleased – not because of the sum of money given, but because of the lie. Peter told Ananias that the money was his to do with as he chose. He would not have been at fault for bringing a portion of the money – if he had been honest about it. Peter said, “You have lied to the Holy Spirit . . . you have not lied to men but to God (v. 3, 4).” His wife confirmed the same lie. Both Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for their deception.
That seems pretty extreme, but we have to understand that dishonesty is an ugly stain on the church. It harms the reputation and the mission of the Body of Christ. When a person is known for deceitfulness, we disregard everything they say. When a representative of the church is dishonest, even their testimony about Christ is in doubt. Simply put, nobody trusts a liar, even when they are speaking the truth. When a church member is untrustworthy in their business or their marriage or their relationships, nothing they say is worth believing.
The Bible is clear: “God does not lie” (Nu 23:19; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18). Nor should we. For the sake of Christ and the gospel, we must be people of integrity. Beloved, you were made in the image of God – speak in His image too.