We are preaching through the book of Acts in church at the moment, and today I had to preach on 4:32-5:16, which contains that terrible account of the deaths by divine judgement of Ananias and Sapphira. One thing which is clear from that account is that they were not judged for keeping back part of the proceeds of their land sale, but for lying about it. They wanted to appear more generous than they really were, but God is more interested in the state of the heart than the size of the offering (as Peter had already learned from Jesus when he watched a widow giving her offering).
Before I preached we had sung the lovely song by Matt Redman: “When the Music Fades.” It contains the lines:
I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required
I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I realised as I sang that, with a small change, the song could illustrate the story perfectly: “I’ll bring you more than an offering, for an offering in itself is not what you have required/ I’m coming back to the heart of offering, and it’s all about you, Jesus.”
I could also sing, “I’ll bring you more than a sermon – I’m coming back to the heart of preaching,” or “I’m coming back to the heart of service.”
Whenever one aspect of our Christian life becomes more about ourselves than about Jesus, it can be an idol. It’s possible to give, preach, serve or sing so that others will be impressed, when actually Jesus, the Father and the Spirit are impressed by truth, integrity and holiness. It’s not that God doesn’t want my offering, preaching, singing or service – He does. I am called to do all of those wholeheartedly and with a generous spirit, with my primary motivation being to please God.
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart
Thanks to Matt Redman for putting it so well.