IT WASN'T BECAUSE ANANIAS held back from the poor box some of the proceeds of his real-estate deal that Saint Peter came down on him so hard. The poor would get by somehow. They always had. What got the old saint's goat was that Ananias let on he was handing over his whole pile instead of only as much as he thought he wouldn't be needing himself.
"You do not lie to us but to God:' Peter said (Acts 5:4), and the undeniable truth of the charge together with the unbearable shame of it were more than Ananias could take, so he dropped dead. His wife, Sapphira, had been in on the real-estate deal with him, and when she turned up three hours later and found out what had happened, she dropped dead too.
Lying to God is like sawing the branch you're sitting on. The better you do it, the sooner you fall.