If we are to believe that biblical names are a reflection of the people we study, it may be helpful to know that Ananias means “blessed by the Lord” and Sapphira means “beautiful.” This couple was “blessed and beautiful.” It kind of gives you the impression that they were a young, upwardly mobile couple who were looking to make their mark on the world. They were ambitious networkers who were striving for attention.
That is a sharp contrast to the context of the story. Acts 4 concludes with the report of a man named Joseph who had sold a field and given the money to the apostles for distribution to the poor. His act made such an impression on the apostles that they gave Joseph a nickname. They called him Barnabas, or for the English speaking world, “Mr. Encouragement.” Barnabas’ selfless and humble act of generosity earned him a favorable reputation in the church. I don’t think its too big of a stretch to imagine that all of this attention on Barnabas did not go unnoticed by the “blessed and beautiful” couple. There are two ways you can gain a reputation. You can do it though character development or you can manufacture it. Barnabas’ reputation came by the former. Ananias and Sapphira through the latter.
Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy. In fact, the word hypocrite comes from Greek theater and means “one who plays a part.” As I thought about hypocrisy I wrote my own definition. See what you think of this: “Hypocrisy is the result of manipulating your reputation in a favorable way without paying the price of character development.” When a person pays more attention to developing their reputation and their image than on developing their character, the results can be devistating.