THE FOLLY OF SAPPHIRA


ACTS 5: 1-11

As 2018 draws to a close, one of the most upsetting stories that was rife in the media during the latter half of the year, was the story of Ochanya, the young secondary school student in Benue state who died as a result of complications of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) brought about by the constant sexual molestation she suffered in the hands of her maternal aunt’s husband and son. It is alleged that the abuse went on for about five years from when Ochanya was eight years old. According to Prof. Terlumu Sende, the Chief Medical Director of Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) where Ochanya was initially treated, “… upon investigation and diagnosis, it was discovered that the girl repeatedly suffered penetration in her anus and vagina.” Another statement that caught my attention was that made by the Executive Director, Virgin Heart Foundation, Peace Dike, that “the young girl’s auntie cannot deny being aware of the actions of her spouse and son.” Dike inferred that some women prefer to conceal their husband’s flaws, probably not to bring the family to disrepute, and was of the opinion that Ochanya’s aunt should face the full wrath of the law as an accomplice and a party to the crime against the young girl. (Culled from www.vanguard.com/2018/10/27).

This story made me so sick to my stomach and terribly sad, and I wondered how this abuse could have been prevented and what role a woman should have in preventing or at least being able to carry out a major damage control in situations like Ochanya’s case.

I remembered the story of Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts 5: 1-11. This story is about a man by name Ananias who willingly pledged the entire proceeds of the sale of his land to the early church. The proceeds were to be used to meet the needs of the entire body of Christ in which he and his wife Sapphira were members. Ananias sold the land and brought part of the proceeds, not the entire proceeds as he had earlier pledged, and gave it to Peter, with the knowledge of his wife. This is why I titled this piece, “The Folly of Sapphira.” Why would she join forces with her husband to do the wrong thing? Did she have no fear of the Lord? Was she so adamant about maintaining the approval of her husband at the detriment of eternal life with Christ?

We all know how the story of Ananias and Sapphira ended (Acts 5: 1-11). Ananias died and so did Sapphira. She could have lived if she chose to do the right thing which was speaking up and telling Peter the truth. What then is the lesson for women from this story of Sapphira’s folly?

  1. In this dispensation, every man/woman, will speak for himself/herself for all actions taken or not taken etc. Being married does not make one an automatic partaker in the crime of your partner, unlike in the Old Testament where it was so. An example is when Achan’s entire family was wiped away because of his theft (Joshua 7: 1-26). Women must, therefore, learn to stand for the truth and speak up for the truth always.
  2. A woman must not cover up a crime for her partner. In as much as she may want to protect him and their home, she must remember that there are consequences for a cover-up (Proverbs 28: 13). She must not necessarily shame him in public, but she must ensure that he is accountable for his actions. Also, depending on the nature of the crime, she may need to speak to a trusted spiritual leader or family elder and they can decide on what line of action to be taken. Abigail did not cover up Nabal’s wrongs, rather she tried to make amends (1 Samuel 25). Kindly refer to my earlier article titled “Lessons from Great Women in the Bible: Abigail.” – http://ekklesiamag.com/2017/08/09/lessons-from-great-women-in-bible-abigail/
  3. A woman must use wisdom in handling issues. She must know that she has a relationship with the Lord which is superior to her relationship with her husband. It is the Lord first before her husband, so she must be accountable to the Lord first. She must not knowingly disobey God to please her husband (Mark 12: 30).
  4. A woman must always have the fear of the Lord in her heart. She must not become over-familiar with the Lord and take Him for granted. She must recognize genuine spiritual authority and anointing. Sapphira was in a believers’ gathering headed by Peter, but she obviously did not have much regard for his authority. One can lie to herself and to others, but we should never dare lie to the Holy Spirit by toying with the things of God, for there will surely be consequences (Proverbs 10: 27; Zephaniah 3: 7)
  5. Sapphira brought death upon herself. Just like in the story I mentioned earlier, the result of not doing the right thing was death. There are grave consequences for sin and the covering up of sin. It never ends well. Initially, it may look like all will end well, but down the road, things always take a bad turn. Sapphira did not just die a natural death, she died an eternal death as well because she died in her sin of lying to the Holy Spirit (Romans 6: 23).

This article left me sober while writing it because I thought deep and hard about the dangers of wives blindly supporting all their spouses do by covering for them. No one said that you should abandon your husband when he does wrong; after all, you are in a covenant relationship of “for better or for worse” with him. We are only advising that you call him out to the right spiritual or family authority over some critical issues. Never be part of a cover-up for issues of great magnitude. Just please do the right thing and correct him in love, but never partake in any shenanigans of serious proportions, so that when the judgement of man or God comes, you can escape.

May the Lord have mercy on us all and give us the wisdom to run our homes right (Proverbs 24: 3).

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