he story of Ananias and Sapphira is an illustration of the disappointment that occurs when we discover that people are not always what they appear to be. It stands out in the early Christian church narrative as a unique event that raises perhaps as many questions as it answers.
In the New Testament, and particularly in the book of Acts, we find the quintessential example of true Spirit-led giving. Not just tithes and offerings, but generous philanthropic and planned giving. A true manifestation of a harmonious, committed church community.
Three Basic Stewardship Concepts
The members of the Trinity relate, decide, and act in harmonious union, as we find in the Creation, for example (“Let Us … ”).1 They present to us a model of relational love. Together They are God, and individually They are God.
Fiscal and legal regulations require that the funds we give to any public charity or enterprise be treated with rigor and discipline. And those regulations require the same for the funds we give for tithes, offerings, or as large philanthropic gifts, through trusts or wills. Because of this, many consider giving to God and His cause the same as giving a donation to any public charity of their choice. But in thinking that way, they seem to lose sight of the fact that giving to God is an act of individual worship, which strengthens our relationship with God.13
Giving builds character. It calls for the individual to organize their life and finances, and develop habits to facilitate the funds flowing freely and constantly to the place designated to receive them and distribute them. Giving is a test of faithfulness that culminates with the funds being brought to the church.16 In Testimonies, volume 9, page 247, E. G. White counsels: “The portion that God has reserved for Himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which He has specified. Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they regard as the Lord’s work.” (See also Lev. 17:1-9; Deut. 12:1-8; Neh. 10:38; Eph. 3:11.)
?We are God’s stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God’s ownership by faithful service to Him and our fellow men, and by returning tithes and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victory over selfishness and covetousness. The steward rejoices in the blessings that come to others as a result of his faithfulness. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15; 1 Chron. 29:14; Haggai 1:3-11; Mal. 3:8-12; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; Matt. 23:23; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; Rom. 15:26, 27.)
Trusting in the Lord prepares us to face tribulation and death, and deepens the sense of eternity in our lives.17
Disrespect for Leaders
We can only hope that even today God uses humble people like Peter to provide answers in situations when He chooses to manifest His will. It behooves leaders to stay in close communion with the source of wisdom and power to be able to serve as God’s mouthpiece, use wisely the resources available to them, and respond responsibly to their constituents and to God.19
I give to God because He loves me and trusts me with His possessions. I am a steward of Jesus Christ, as He is the chief steward of God the Father. Giving prepares me for other spiritual privileges. It deepens a sense of eternity in my life.
–Juan R. Prestol
1 Gen. 1:26; cf. Matt. 3:13-17; 28:18, 19; John 10:14-18; 11:41, 42; 14:8, 9; 16:13-15.