Acts 5: 1-11describes a negative event that occurred in the early days of the church. At that time, people in the church of Jerusalem shared their possessions with each other and had everything in common, but the couple Ananias and Sapphira were punished by God and died because they didn’t want to give up their property. They were punished not because they donated too little, or because they did not donate all the property they had earned, but because they desired fame and credit. They lied and deceived everyone to the extent that they deceived the Holy Spirit.
Nowadays people in some churches also use deception to angle for fame and compliments like Ananias and Sapphira. The most common thing they like to do is to exaggerate the facts. They may accomplish very little in their ministry, but they just like to exaggerate. This phenomenon in the church is often connected to the vanity of the church leader. Many church leaders use lies to replace facts in order to make a name for themselves or to bring fame to their own church.
When they call those who are willing to repent and believe in Jesus to come to the altar following an evangelistic sermon, they actually ask many Christians to also come forward so it appears there are many people repenting. Some churches either exaggerate their ministry or fabricate activities and program at the end of the year when they report on church ministry to brothers and sisters, or when they fellowship with or communicate with other churches.
The first sin recorded in the Bible is inseparable from telling lies. Satan deceived Eve through the serpent and caused her to reach out and pick from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The ninth commandment is that you must not falsely testify against people. This false testimony means lying. The Lord Jesus severely reprimanded those who lie and said that their father is Satan. The Bible repeatedly teaches us to be truthful.
As a church leader, we need to be more vigilant, knowing that everything we do is done for the Lord. We work to bring honor and glory to the Lord but not receive a reward from others. No matter how much or how little we serve, or no matter how effective it is, the Lord will make his own judgment, as long as we follow the instructions of the Lord and do our best for the Lord.
When we know that our service is for the Lord, then judgment, reward and punishment are also in the Lord. We can avoid trying to make a name for ourselves and be concerned with our reputation because this is vain, and we want to avoid falling into the situation of lying and offending God. In the same way, as a Christian, you also need to be alert to your actions and words in our daily life. If we do not admire those who are vain, or those who compare themselves with each other, then we will not fall into the temptation of telling lies.
(Note: The author is a full-time co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu