Counsels on Stewardship


Chapter 60—The Sin of Ananias

The hearts of Ananias and his wife were moved by the Holy Spirit to devote their possessions to God as their brethren had done. But after they had made the pledge, they drew back, and determined not to fulfill it. While professing to give all, they kept back part of the price. They had practiced fraud toward God, they had lied to the Holy Spirit, and their sin was visited with swift and terrible judgment. They lost not only the present life, but eternal life. CS 312.1

The Lord saw that this signal manifestation of His justice was needed to guard others against incurring the same guilt. It testified that men cannot deceive God, that He detects the hidden sin of the heart, and that He will not be mocked. It was designed as a warning to the young church, to lead them to examine their motives, to beware of indulging selfishness and vainglory, to beware of robbing God. CS 312.2

In the case of Ananias, the sin of fraud against God was speedily detected and punished. This example of God's judgment was designed to be a danger signal to all future generations. The same sin was often repeated in the afterhistory of the church, and it is committed by many in our time; but though not attended with the visible manifestation of God's displeasure, it is no less heinous in His sight now than in the apostles’ time. The warning has been given, God has clearly manifested His abhorrence of this sin, and all who pursue a similar course of action may be sure that they are destroying their own souls.... CS 312.3

It is only when Christian motives are fully acknowledged, and the conscience is awake to duty, when divine light makes impressions upon the heart and character, that selfishness is overcome, and the mind of Christ is exemplified. The Holy Spirit, working upon human hearts and characters, will expel all tendency to covetousness, to deceptive dealing.... CS 313.1

On some occasions the Lord has moved decidedly upon worldly, selfish men. Their minds were illuminated by the Holy Spirit, their hearts felt its softening, subduing influence. Under a sense of the abundant mercy and grace of God, they felt it their duty to promote His cause, to build up His kingdom.... They felt a desire to have a share in the kingdom of God, and they pledged to give of their means to some of the various enterprises of the Lord's cause. That pledge was not made to man, but to God in the presence of His angels, who were moving upon the hearts of these selfish, money-loving men. CS 313.2

In making the pledge, they were greatly blessed; but how quickly the feelings change when they stand on common ground. As the immediate impression of the Holy Spirit becomes dim, as the mind and heart become absorbed again in worldly business, it is most difficult for them to maintain the consecration of themselves and their property to the Lord. Satan assails them with his temptation, “You were foolish to pledge that money, you need it to invest in your business, and you will meet with loss if you pay the pledge.” CS 313.3

Now they draw back, they murmur, they complain of the Lord's message and His messengers. They say things that are not true, claiming that they pledged under excitement, that they did not fully understand the matter, the case was overstated, their feelings were moved, and this led them to make the pledge. They talked as though the precious blessing they received was the result of a deception practiced upon them by the minister to secure money. They change their minds, and feel under no obligation to pay their vows to God. There is most fearful robbery of God, and flimsy excuses are made for resisting and denying the Holy Spirit. Some plead inconvenience; they say they need their money—to do what? To bury in houses and lands, in some money-making scheme. Because the pledge was made for a religious object, they think it cannot be enforced by law, and the love of money is so strong upon them that they deceive their own souls, and presume to rob God. To many it might be said, “You treat no other friend so ill.” CS 313.4

The number of those who commit the sin of Ananias and Sapphira is increasing. Men do not lie to man, but to God in their disregard of the pledges which His Spirit moved upon them to make. Because sentence against an evil work is not, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil, to strive against the Spirit of God. How will these men stand in the judgment? Dare you abide the final issue of this question? How will you stand in the scenes described in the Revelation? “I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;... and they were judged every man according to their works.”—The Review and Herald, May 23, 1893. CS 314.1