Trading 80 for 20

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By Tonya Allen

Here in Acts 4:34-5:11, we have this married couple who was considered to be among the most powerful, caring, community of believers. Sapphira’s name means “beautiful” comparing to the beautiful bluish, purplish, precious stone known as the Sapphire. Ananias means, “Jehovah is gracious”, and God had truly blessed Ananias. Just think, God was very gracious to Ananias, he had blessed him with a beautiful wife, possessions, forgiven him for all of his past sins, and he sat in the midst of other believers. Who could ask for anything more?

Well, needless to say, Ananias and Sapphira wanted more, a whole lot more. They wanted more than mere acceptance, they wanted acclaim and adoration. They wanted the praise of men. In Acts 4:36-37, we learned that Barnabas was the one who sacrificed everything, but he was not grandstanding, his only thought was the need of his fellow Christians. But the acclaim was there, Barnabas was getting the enthusiastic appreciation of the entire congregation, and Ananias and Sapphira saw it and longed for it and this is where all of their trouble began. Why do we always want what the other person has? Now, Ananias and Sapphira were faced with the question, how can we get all of the attention we are craving for and keep our money too? FAKE IT!!!

Now I know several of you have heard the saying, “Fake it-to make it!” By faking it, were they really lying to everyone? Ananias and Sapphira were not obligated to give all of their money to the church but God does expect us to be honest. They were presenting a false image of themselves by implying a greater spirituality that they actually possessed, letting people think more highly of them than what they knew was warranted. They were more interested in appearances than in reality. In Acts 5:4, Peter said, “You have not lied to men, but to God”.

This couple reminds me of the married couples we often see at church and in our various families. They want everyone to think that their marriage is perfect and that they have it all together. They want us to come up to them and say, “I wish my marriage was more like yours”. If I could, I would yell at the top of my lungs everyday from the top of the tallest building for everyone to hear. “BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!!! BE VERY CAREFUL AND SELECTIVE ABOUT THE WORDS YOU LET EXIT YOUR LIPS!!!” You have to remember that people are not willing to air their dirty laundry. If Phillip is always showering his wife with lavish gifts and telling everyone what he did for his wife, you need to stop and ask yourself why he feels like it is so important to shower his wife with gifts and then let the whole world know how generous he is. What if Phillip physically abused his wife the night before? The display you are witnessing is the result of him buying his wife’s silence with a gift? Do you still wish your marriage was more like theirs?

I don’t want your marriage to be like mine, I want your marriage to be better than mine. I want your marriage to emulate Christ’s love for the church. One of my co-worker, young but wise, loves to repeat the following quote: “If you could put down your troubles and pick up someone else’s, you would pick your own troubles back up again.” We all know the phrase about “the grass being greener on the other side”, but what if the grass on the other side is being fertilized by a broken septic tank? In other words, just because someone else’s marriage looks good doesn’t mean that it is good. Put your time and effort into taking care of the “grass” the Lord has blessed you with, the Lord has equipped you with everything you need in order for your lawn to flourish.

Most of us first heard of the 80/20 rule in Tyler Perry’s movie, “Why Did I Get Married?” The infidelity of Marcus and Mike leads to a discussion by the men of the 80/20 rule. This rule states that most men or women get 80% of what they need from a marriage yet they tend to go after the 20% that someone outside can provide for them because it appears to be more to them when it really isn’t. It’s the endless search for that missing 20 percent they hoped for in their mate that leads many people to cheat. Why do they want the other 20 percent so badly? A spouse may not feel as if he is good enough for his spouse or he or she may feel unfulfilled in the relationship. He or she may not even be aware they feel that way and end up taking it out on their spouse.  They think the partner is the problem, and it has absolutely nothing to do with their partner. So, when you are focused on trading 80 for 20, you often fail to realize that eighty percent of  the issues you have with your spouse  are our own internal battles. Twenty percent are actual relationship issues. Start digging through your own baggage, and do it quickly, so you and your spouse can start working on the 20 percent that is desperately needed in order to create a more meaningful marriage.

If you find yourself getting stuck while working on your inner 80 percent, please seek help. A relationship expert can help you figure out the difference between your own needs versus what you need from your spouse.


Tonya Allen

Tonya can be reached at [email protected] Tonya and her husband Robert were Married Couples Ministry leaders for 17 years at Freewill Missionary Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama.

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