For years, whenever the story of Ananias and Sapphira came up (Acts 5:1-11), I would joke that I was planning to use it as the basis for a stewardship sermon. If you know the story, or take the time to read the text, you’ll understand the implied threat.
Let me say – it’s funny how God works. It just so happens this was the week our fall Bible study on the Book of Acts landed on the story of Ananias and Sapphira – as well as a few other wonderful stories about the first days of the early church. After spending some serious time in study and reflection, I’m now convinced that God really does want me to preach on the story of Ananias and Sapphira – and also in the context of our “focus on faithful giving,” which begins this week and runs through the month of October.
I’ll save the good stuff for Sunday morning, but I can assure you that the ideas we find in Acts 5 fit hand in glove with our Faith Promise program, which our Finance Team is initiating for the first time this year (see front cover for details).
Perhaps one of the biggest differences in this year’s Faith Promise emphasis is that the amount of our commitment and our names will be put in separate receptacles (Parts A and B on the Faith Promise card), thus ensuring the anonymity of our Faith Promise. Therefore, while the Finance Team will still be able to plan the budget for the coming year, your commitment is strictly between you and God.
It would be appropriate, then, to talk about our Faith Promise being more of a “covenant” than what we typically think of as a pledge. A covenant is, in fact, a promise we make to God. When I talk about the concept of covenant in the context of a wedding, I often use this definition: “a covenant is a promise we make in a time of strength to carry us through times of struggle and weakness.”
Giving of our time and especially of our resources is one of the most important things we do as believers – and has consequences in all aspects of our lives. It is my prayer that during our focus on faithful giving, each of us will take the time to make a covenant with God – a promise in a time of strength to give from the first fruits of our labor to the work of God through Central Christian Church.
As we will see on Sunday, even some in the early church struggled with trusting their whole lives into God’s care (especially their financial security). But when the church responded in faith, God multiplied their blessings in amazing ways. I wholeheartedly believe God is at work in the same way among us today.