Written by Rev. Christudas
Honesty is the human quality of communicating and acting truthfully. It includes honesty to God, to others and to oneself. God chose Israel as his own people and made his covenant with them. God wanted them to follow the covenant and to remain honest and faithful. The Bible narrates several incidents were the Israelites were not honest to God.
In Joshua chapter 7 we read about the life of Achan. After the capture of Jericho, contrary to the instructions of Joshua, Achan took some gold and silver from the plunder and hid them in his tent. Achan’s unfaithful act resulted in God’s anger against Israel, resulting in Israel being defeated by the Amorites. Here the sin of one person, Achan, become the reason for the destruction of the others (Josh.7:1-26).
God used the incident to teach Israel an important lesson. God wants his people to be honest and obedient. Here, God observes the sin of one person as the sin of the whole community. As Achan had broken the covenant and had committed the sin, God explained that the whole of Israel had broken the covenant.
Ananias and Sapphira
In the New Testament we read about Barnabas, who showed a model of selfless giving by selling his field and giving the money to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37).
Ananias and his wife Sapphira too sold a piece of property. They kept part of the money for themselves and gave the rest to the apostles telling them that, that was the whole price they got. There was no compulsion amongst the believers to sell their property and give the money to the common fund.
Peter told Ananias that the property belonged to Ananias before the sale and the money was at his disposal after the sale. Then what was the need to lie to the Holy Spirit saying that they had given the whole price that they had gotten? (Acts 5:1-11). Ananias’ attempt was a dishonest act before God and also humanity. But here in the New Testament, the incident is considered as the sin of a person.
Both these passages exhibit a basic characteristic that is inherent in human beings. It is the greed for wealth. Achan was attempting to attain more wealth where as Ananias and Sapphira were reluctant to give away the complete wealth that they possessed. Here, both of them are breaking the covenant in mainly three ways:
1. By being dishonest before God
2. By telling a lie or attempting to keep the sin secret before the Holy Spirit
3. By prioritizing money over God
God demands us to be loyal, faithful and honest to him and to humanity. The Covenant is not an exclusive law for the Israelites, but it is a guideline for us also. Both the Biblical texts raise the question, ‘Are we honest to God and our fellow human beings?’
Copyright © Jan 2009. Christudas
Author: Rev. Christudas is the District Superintendent of Church of the Nazarene, Bengaluru.