Archive for the ‘Impression Management’ Category

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i had to do a refresher regarding Achan. After the victory of the Israelites at the battle of Jericho, Joshua ordered that all of the goods and the wealth of the city were to be devoted to the Lord.  The people could keep nothing for themselves.  The city of Jericho and its wealth was to be offered as the first fruits to the Lord.  It was as if it were the tithe offered from the land of Canaan.  In Joshua 7:1 it says, “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan, the son of Carmi of the tribe of Judah, took some of them.  So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.”  As a result of this crime Israel was defeated in their next battle.  When the sin of Achan was later discovered he, like Ananias, was punished by being put to death.  The Lord will not be mocked.  He will not tolerate sin, even though it seems like He’s doing so today.

To say that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful and violent God and that the God of the New Testament is a God of love and grace, would be to say that i have never read the whole book!  The God of the Bible is the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Sovereign One.  He is the Holy One.  Apart from his grace, i am the same as Achan at the battle of Jericho and Ananias and Sapphira in the early Christian Church.  Is it any wonder that Acts 5:11 says, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

When it says, that to “fear the Lord” is a good and proper attitude, it doesn’t mean i am to be “scared” of the God and regard him as unapproachable.  To “fear the Lord” is to have the wisdom to know that He is holy and sovereign and i am not.  Holiness and sovereignty demand respect.  The Lord loves me and i can love Him because of His grace shown to me.  The Holy Spirit awakens my stubborn and sinful wills to know and experience His powerful love. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that I can do the good God requires of me.  In Romans 2 verses 8 and 10 it says that “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  … but glory, honour, and peace for everyone who does good.”  There are three criteria for any work to be considered “good”.  First, it arises out of true faith; second, it conforms to God’s law, and third, it’s done for his glory.  Only under the influence of the Holy Spirit can i meet this criteria.  Where Ananias and Sapphira failed is in the third criteria.  There action was not done for the glory of God but for the glory of themselves, Impression Management.

Let me share three truths,

Truth about God – Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt for God.

Truth about ourselves – They showed themselves as being filled with vanity and ambition.

Truth about others – They showed total disregard for others by the corruption which they were bringing into the society.

Psalm 103:10 says that the Lord “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”  That’s grace.  Grace is not something we can demand from the Lord.  It’s not something we can earn.  So why was this couple denied grace and made to pay for their sin with capital punishment?  Ultimately the answer to this question is left to the Lord himself.  However, perhaps there would be benefit from seeing this story in light of the miracles which happened in the book of Acts.

Before and after this story, Luke tells about miraculous healings which the apostles and in particular Peter, were enabled to perform. Immediately after Ananias and Sapphira’s story it says in Acts 5:15 that the apostles healed so many that people brought their sick into the streets so that “at least Peter’s shadow might fall on them” as they lay in the street.

Each day that i wake up and go about my daily routines is a gift of His grace.  It is the undeserved favor of God shown to me.  Each day a day of grace.  A day to bring glory to God and a day of asking for his Holy Spirit to guide me in all my living.  God is sovereign.  He is holy.  He fills me with His HOLY Spirit.  i in turn become an agent of his grace.

In closing… just in case i have not made clear what “Impression Management is let me summarize it. “Impression Management is defined as MANIPULATING OTHERS opinion of us?

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“I feel like a big faker because I’ve been putting my life back together, and nobody knows.”   ―     Stephen Chbosky

That’s Impression Management… Did you give it any thought? i wonder…. how many of us actually practice it? Come on let’s be honest, don’t we all do it at one time or another? How about this? we tell someone we don’t want to do something or go somewhere because… and we fill in the blanks with something that won’t make us sound… bad. If we can explain that we’re busy or something that sounds important then we don’t have to worry about looking bad. Nobody wants to look bad! That’s impression management. As i look back on things i see where i have used Impression management quite often. Fortunately without the same results as this husband and wife, yet… i ‘m fairly sure there will be a judgment at some point.

i think that Luke tells this story of Ananias and Sapphira’s judgment in the midst all the other stories which are about the spread of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, because he wants me to know that the Spirit at work among God’s people is a HOLY Spirit and God will not be mocked by my sin!  i tend to think that God is safe, that i am safe and that i can get away with treating him as less than what He has revealed himself to be. But here i’m shown an example that i am not safe, or covered by grace and mercy when i intentionally deceive Him. He is Holy and He is Good, but He will not be trifled with.  God will not be mocked.

Back to the title, “Impression Management”. After the introductions and situation are given in verses 1-2, Peter confronts Ananias with his crime in verses 3-4.  He says, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit …”  Then at the end of verse 4 he says, “You have not lied to men but to God.”  We’re at the heart of the matter.  The real crime in is not that this man and his wife kept back some of the money.  Their crime is that they have lied to God. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God the Holy Spirit while attempting to make themselves look better than they were, thus Impression Management.  It is the sin of hypocrisy.  Peter says to the husband, “Didn’t (the field) belong to you before it was sold?  And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?  What made you think of doing such a thing?”  Hypocrisy within the community of God’s people can destroy the community. Theologian John Stott says, “Ananias and Sapphira were not so much misers as they were thieves.” They wanted the credit and the prestige for sacrificial generosity, without the inconvenience of it.  So, in order to gain a reputation to which they had no right, they told an intentional lie.  Their motive in giving was not to relieve the poor, but to fatten their own ego.” Impression Management!

“Mindfulness helps us get better at seeing the difference between what’s happening and the stories we tell ourselves about what’s happening, stories that get in the way of direct experience. Often such stories treat a fleeting state of mind as if it were our entire and permanent self.”   ―     Sharon Salzberg

In closing, There has never been a time when any of God’s people were perfect.  But i need to be on guard against the work of the unholy spirit.  F.F. Bruce writes, “The story of Ananias is to the book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua.  In both narratives an act of deceit interrupts the victorious progress of God’s people.”

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Impression Management…, sounds…, i don’t know, somewhat impressive? It just rolls off my tongue, “What do you do?” “i’m in Impression Management.”

This weeks posts and podcasts will come from Acts 5:1-11. It’s there that i found a story about the deaths of a husband, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira?  This story could seem out of place in reference to what is shared in the first four chapters of Acts. Upon reading the first part of Acts i found that from the beginning, Luke has been sharing about the things the disciples were enabled to do and teach after the ascension of Jesus.  Luke tells about the power of the Holy Spirit in the apostle’s lives and the phenomenal growth of the Church.  In Acts 4:33 he summarizes everything by saying, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”  It’s a picture of the community of God’s people working to it’s fullest.  But then comes Acts 5:1-11, the story of Ananias and Sapphira and their deaths and it just doesn’t seem to fit with what was described previously.

Is this a deviation? Is it an interruption in this community? And is this story really as depressing as it sounds?

First off, it’s not a deviation nor an interruption and as for depressing or not, you’ll have to decide for yourself. But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.” No problem with that…? Or is there?

Acts 4:36-37 tells of a man named Barnabas who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so that it could be used for distribution among the believers who were in need.  He must have gotten praise and thanks from the community.  In fact, his name was actually “Joseph”, but the apostles called him “Barnabas” which means “Son of Encouragement”.  It is this event at the end of the chapter 4 which leads into Acts 5:1-11. Ananias, having seen Barnabas do what he did, decides along with this wife, to do the same thing.  There’s just one small, teensy weensy, difference. His action is motivated by a different spirit than that of Barnabas. Barnabas was moved by the Holy Spirit to do what he did, and because of that he won much praise and favor from God and men. Ananias did the opposite. Being moved by a different spirit, an unholy spirit, he received no praise, but only severe judgment.

The fact that Luke puts the story of Ananias and his wife in this book, indicates to me that his purpose was to present an accurate and historical account of the first century Christian Church.  Seriously, what author, would include a story which might cause offense to those who hear it?  To many people this story sounds judgmental, harsh, cruel, and that perhaps should not be included when trying to communicate the good news of Christ.  Their thoughts may be, “Isn’t the Lord supposed to love everyone?  Doesn’t his grace come upon all people?”  Even some theologians have said that they hope this story is a legend and not true because it makes the apostle Peter seem harsh and God’s judgment severe.

On with the story. Verses 3 and 4, “Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”

There was nothing demanding or being asked of Ananias regarding this offering so Peter wants to know how Satan got him to lie. “Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished.” So the question is why? This comes the title of this post, “Impression Management”. I’ll get back to that.

Verses 5 and 6, “Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. Don’t you know, that put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work, wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.”

Think about it, Ananias was not even given a chance to repent before he was struck down.  Then the apostles didn’t even take the time to inform his wife about his death.

Verses 7 – 10, Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in. Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?” “Yes,” she said, “that price.” Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? Imagine the surprise when Peter says, “The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.” That’s some kind of pastoral care!

Perhaps we, i mean i could use a dose of that type of reality because verse 11 says, “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”