Something amazing was happening among believers in the early church. Not only was the Holy Spirit changing people’s hearts to believe in Jesus, He was empowering them to live differently. We see the evidence of God’s grace among the believers in Acts 4:32-35. The believers shared everything they had. If one person had a need, someone else gladly gave what he had to meet that need. As a result, “there was not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34).
Joseph (also known as Barnabas) was one of the disciples living in this way. He sold a field and gave the money to the apostles. But trouble arose when Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold some land. Perhaps they wanted to appear as generous as Barnabas without feeling the full cost of such generosity. They secretly kept back some of the money, and Ananias brought the rest to Peter.
When Peter confronted Ananias, he didn’t tell him he was wrong to only bring part of the money. In fact, Peter said Ananias could have been honest about how the money was divided. Ananias and Sapphira’s sin was in pretending to be generous when they were actually greedy. They had tried to deceive the apostles, but Peter pointed out that they were guilty of trying to deceive God. Ananias dropped dead, and a few hours later his wife did too.
As you teach this story to kids, avoid using Ananias and Sapphira as a warning to be generous or die. As sinners, we struggle with the temptation of greed. Point your kids to Jesus, who forgives our greed and changes us through the Holy Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look generous, but they were greedy. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts to want to share with those in need because Jesus generously gave all He had so we can share in His riches and have forgiveness and eternal life.
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
- Babies and Toddlers
- Ananias and Sapphira lied about their gift.
- Ananias and Sapphira were punished for lying to God.
- We give because Jesus gives us what we need.
- Jesus gave up everything He had for us.
- The church serves God.
- Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be generous.
- What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere.
- Ananias and Sapphira lied about their gift to the church.
- What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.
UNIT KEY PASSAGE
- Romans 12:5
- “Stephen’s Sermon” (Acts 6–7)