“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare – Act II, Scene II Romeo and Juliet
When my youngest son would get into mischief – as all little boys are prone to do – there were some who said to me, “You should never have named him Jason!” Inferring that all little boys named Jason were mischievous.
In the book of Acts we find three men with the same name – Ananias – and yet they are very different men at heart. The Ananias we meet in chapter five is a man of means, a property owner, a man of faith, or so he claims. He wants to support the church by selling a piece of property and giving the money to the church. But God knows his heart. God knows that Ananias cares more about appearances than he cares for God. Instead of being honest, Ananias pretends to give all the money when he actually keeps part of the proceeds for himself while telling everyone in the church he was giving it all. His sin wasn’t that he kept part of the proceeds from the sale of his property. His sin was in pretending to be something he was not.
The Ananias we meet in Chapter nine is a very different man. He is not just a follower, he is a disciple. Paul says of him in chapter 22, verse12 of Acts: He is a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews in Damascas. And he has heard of Paul. He knows that Paul is coming to Damascus on a mission to arrest all the followers of Christ. When God calls on him to go to Paul and lay hands on him to restore his sight, Ananias questions the wisdom of that assignment. However, when God says go, Ananias goes. He lays his hands on this man that he fears and he prays for him. Ananias trusts God. He is obedient when God calls him.
In chapters twenty-three and twenty-four we meet Ananias the high priest who sought to destroy Paul. This priest who was supposed to serve God was working his own angle for his own benefit. He never considered what God wanted. He was doing what he thought was best for his career. He couldn’t allow the followers of Jesus to gain public support because that would undermine the system that he had put his faith in. Ananias the priest had forgotten Who was really in charge.
Three different men with the same name but with very different hearts.
When the Ananias from Jerusalem was given the opportunity to tell the truth he persisted in his deception and paid a heavy price – his life. The Ananias from Damascus questioned his assignment at first but when God said “Go!” Ananias went. He trusted and obeyed. As for the high priest, here was a man who was supposed to be serving God but evidently wasn’t listening to God but doing what served his own interests.
God knows our heart. No matter what happens we can be honest before God, trusting in His grace. There is nothing that we can do that will cause God to stop loving us. Because He loves us we can trust that He will keep us headed down the path He has for us. He will let us know if we start to stray from that path. We will be given the opportunity to repent, to confess, to turn back. Our task is to keep our eyes on Jesus, to read and study God’s Word, and to spend time in prayer, seeking His direction for our lives. God desires a relationship with His people. Do you want a relationship with Him?