Read Acts 5
The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes on the heels of chapter 4’s conclusion that the believers had all things in common and because of this, no one among them was needy. How this came to be, apparently, was through the selling of possessions and pooling their money. It is a testimony to them living out Jesus’ teaching to love one another and to care for those that are marginalized. In fact, most of the early church was made up of those on the fringes of society who have found both healing and redemption in Jesus’ name.
So when this couple comes to them, pretending to be a part of them, and yet still holding on to selfish motives, Peter calls them out. It isn’t that what they did in principle was wrong. In fact, Peter tells them that the money was theirs to do with as they pleased. Indeed, it was the principle of the matter; true benevolence is a matter of the heart, not founded on empty actions or lies. God doesn’t truly care about money, He wants your heart.
Contrast the beginning and end of this chapter. A couple lies about their giving and winds up dead. Peter and John continue preaching the Gospel, fully determined to spread the news about Jesus. They hold nothing back, wind up in prison and are flogged for teaching about Jesus in the synagogue. Yet here they have found true life and even rejoice in the persecution “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” What a stark difference!