Free To GivePeter, You, Me, & Even Ananias
And So On Throughout Eternity
After Ananias and Sapphira were greeted in heaven by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, after being immersed in an atmosphere of grace and love, after their punishing religious obsession with good and evil was exposed, and self-righteous striving had ceased, in the freedom of consent, as they celebrated union, and as the band took a quick five, Jesus leaned over and with a heavenly grin, said, “Sorry about Pete. I told him to ‘feed my sheep,’ and he’s doing a brilliant job of it—most days. But occasionally, he still stumbles over the punishing lie of separation and forgets reconciling love. And when that happens,” Jesus chuckled as He opened His arms, recognizing their participation in the sweet by and by, “well, you know.”
Then Jesus gave a good-natured wink, “At least he didn’t use a sword this time.”
Everyone laughed because, it’s heaven—the Kingdom within and at hand, where all Creation is reconciled in Christ.
Laughter, peace, joy, and love resounded throughout the celestial realm as grace flowed like an exquisite vintage. And freely Ananias and Sapphira received. And freely Ananias and Sapphira gave and so on and so on throughout eternity…
Freely You Have Received, Freely Give
Acts 2:42-47 describes the early church as a communal fellowship where they matured together, experienced miracles, and favor, and “sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (v45)
They chose to give—freely.
Freely is a powerful word; it’s what made the early church so beautiful. It’s what’s so beautiful about the church today. Freely we receive—for God so loved He gave (See John 3:16) —and freely we give—we love because He first loved. (See 1 John 4:19)
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1) And so, the early church gave freely, in the consent of mutual, self-giving love. The giving wasn’t forced or controlled; it wasn’t coerced. There were no manipulative messages from pulpits, no arm twisting, no crowbars, compulsion, shaming, or condemning, no fear of retribution; just “freely you have received, freely give.”
All was grace. (Matthew 10:8)
Paul noted this heaven-on-earth freedom when he told the church in Corinth, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure… or under compulsion. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) Paul seemed to understand there is no cheerful giving where compulsion exists. There is no “freely give” where consent isn’t the high-water mark of love.
There are two types of surrender in the world: forced or voluntary. Jesus never forced. He always volunteered. He modeled ‘freely give’ by laying His very life down, not counting our insecure, self-righteous religious obsession with measuring sin against us.
“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?
Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?
What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” (Acts 5:1-11)
You know, I imagine Peter was pretty good at recognizing someone who had partnered with Satan, seeing as he’d done it a few times himself. “Get behind me, Satan,” Jesus once said to a striving Peter. (Matthew 16:23)
I imagine Peter was pretty good at recognizing a lie, seeing as he’s one of the most famous liars in the Bible, having three times denied he even knew Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75)
And I imagine Peter knew how to pray for someone’s faith so they may turn back to God, seeing as he had once been on the receiving end of Jesus’ prayer just before He took up His cross. “Peter, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” Jesus told him, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
I imagine Peter knew well that “the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” And I imagine he knew this eternal life was a gift freely given by his best friend, Jesus, on a cross where He reconciled the world to Himself, not counting Peter’s, yours, mine, or even Ananias’ sins against us. (Romans 6:23) And I imagine he knew this gift was freely received by grace through faith— “so that no one can boast.” (See Ephesians 2:8-9)
To me, it seems Peter was perfectly positioned to address the punishing and delusional spirit of Satan that Ananias was striving under—that same punishing delusional spirit of Satan Jesus once recognized Peter striving under.
Peter appears to be perfectly positioned to pray for Ananias’ faith as Jesus prayed—so he could turn back and strengthen his brothers and sisters. Peter appears perfectly positioned to cry out, ‘Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does’ (See Luke 23:34) just as Jesus cried out for Peter, you, me, and even Ananias.
Peter appears to be perfectly positioned to release the Spirit of Christ’s reconciling love—the finished work of the cross—just as Jesus had done for him—so Ananias might awaken to LOVES saving grace; the kindness of God that leads to repentance, that sets free, transforms, restores, and reconciles; the gift of eternal life that’s freely given so we might freely receive; the same love that saves Peter, you, me, and even Ananias.
But it appears Peter went old school, what some might call Old Covenant…
“When Ananias heard [Peters words], he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him…” (Acts 5:1-11)
Free To Give: Abounding in the Grace of Giving
CO-AUTHORED BY Malcolm Smith, Francois Du Toit, Wm, Paul Young, Steve McVey, Lisa Wentworth Coutre, Paul Golf, Jason Clark, Don Keathley, Tommy Miller, Matt Pandel, Logan Barone, Robin Smit, Cory Rice
In a world where the act of giving is often burdened by expectations and legalistic constraints, “Free to Give” emerges as a guiding light of grace and liberation. If you’ve ever been shackled by the weight of ritualistic and obligatory giving or the oppressive thoughts of giving to meet performance standards, this book is your path to freedom.
Within the pages of “Free to Give,” twelve co-authors extend a heartfelt invitation to experience the transformational power of giving in its purest and most unrestrained form. Drawing from a wellspring of wisdom and personal experiences, these co-voices offer you the opportunity to discover the joy of giving without the constraints of obligation.
Within these pages, you’ll discover:
- A Christ-centered, grace-infused exploration of the account of Ananias and Sapphira.
- Wm. Paul Young’s masterful narrative of the widow’s mite, bringing new depth to this beautiful story.
- A reinvigorated perspective on the classic tale of the Prodigal Son.
- New Testament insights that deconstruct traditional Old Testament ideas about giving, including tithing.
- And an abundance of other revelations and wisdom waiting to be unveiled as these extraordinary authors bring new language, insights, and revelation to the grace of giving.
Let this book be your invitation to a transformed perspective on giving.