Malachi 3:14, "You have said, 'It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts? As I read this passage I asked myself, How has God been profited by His dying for me?
As Jesus moves through the land and observes the people, He takes notice of 'kenosis' as He sees it appearing in society. One of these instances is recorded in the Gospels, in relation to giving. Luke 21:2-3, "...and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;..." It should be noted that Jesus is sitting observing the people bringing tithes and offerings to the Temple. He does not condemn the giving, He makes a point of the attitude shown in regard to the contributions. The many who are coming are not giving sacrificially, they are only giving what is a minimum requirement, failing in their estimation of God's (Jesus') watching of them, these are giving from an abundance, probably not indicative of their actual net worth or what is legally required had their income been made public.
Jesus continues to introduce the disciples to the intent of the calling to a life of sacrifice and faith. By His observing, He also points out the ridiculous attitude which declares that I can hide from God my attitude or actions. This becomes even more evident with regard to Ananias and Sapphira who thought that the unrevealed or hidden would never come to light. This is hypocrisy in giving, they had expectation of relationship with God without acknowledging His sovereignty
The widow with the two mites, is an exemplary model of faith and kenosis. The money she gave was all she had, there was no recourse for her, she had given the very substance of her ability to live, she would not eat until that money had been replaced. In this we see faith, she believed in a God who would provide (Jehovah-Jireh); the God who sees (El-Roi), and she committed all that she had to His care. She gave in faith, she gave in love, she gave with a view to the glory of God, she gave without misgivings as to the end-use, she gave in accordance with what she had, she gave willingly, she gave with trust.
As with all cultural influences, the esteemed values of man can be propagated within, as well as the detrimental or disrespectful behaviours and attitudes. It is the very nature of culture to imitate; to build upon; and to learn from social models. As we see in Acts 4:36-37 a man "Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet." He was not the only one, many had done this in recognition of the need of the poor in Jerusalem.
Acts 5:1-3, "...but a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?" This instance is remarkable in that it points to the nature of hypocrisy, and goes on to illustrate the art and cunning of the enemy in attempting to corrupt the church, and to pervert the religion of the gospel. Hypocrisy consists in any attempt which seeks to imitate the people of God, or to assume the appearance of religion, in whatever form it may be manifested. In this case, religion had been manifested by great self-denial and benevolence. The hypocrisy of Ananias consisted in attempting to imitate this appearance.
Ananias faith was insincere and filled with doubt, it revealed by his actions that he did not believe providentially in God, nor did he understand the sovereignty of God and God's desire to raise a people imitative of the kenosis modeled by Jesus, that which is required, esteemed, sincere, unpretentious, and indicative of the trusting relationship. Ananias' actions were indicative of his vain and covetous insecurity. Ananias' actions were seen by the Apostles as the seed of doubt planted in the heart of the church; the yeast which, when left, infiltrates the whole amount of dough (Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.); the consensual yielding to Satan's influences and the insidiousness of lies invading the thoughts and intents of the church; the introduction of sin into the fellowship of Saints, 'sin lying at the door' seeking to devour, consume and waste life's efforts; the opportunity afforded to Satan to entrench a hardened and cheating mind-set; the destruction of the favorable circumstances for the promotion of faith and relationship, and in this, that sin was identified and dealt with by God in a shocking and stern fashion.
Praise God that His mercy and grace abound today and the expedient judgement of God is restrained.
2 Cor. 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.