This is from the "strange but true" files. There is a man named Peter Maxwell who owned a urethane manufacturing plant in Chino, California. Not only was he the owner but he carried himself on the books as an employee for an annual salary of $10,000. One day, while in the plant helping out, his sweater got caught in a machine and he was injured severely. This is where it gets bizarre.

He hired an attorney and sued himself for negligence. Of course, he had to defend himself so he hired another attorney for the defense against the lawsuit. Not wishing that a lengthy court case should ensue he decided to settle the case against himself out of court and pay himself $122,500 for his injuries. Thus he received tax free money in a settlement and a nice business deduction as well. The Internal Revenue Service caught wind of this little arrangement and got involved.

The IRS demanded that Maxwell pay $64, 185 as income tax since he was acting as an employee. They also asked him to cough up another $58,500 as the owner for a fraudulent business deduction. I don't know if you're keeping up, but that comes to $122,685. Maxwell appealed to a U. S. Tax Court and they decided that both sides could keep their settlements; the total settlement without paying taxes and the total business deduction.

Acts 5:1-11 carries the strange story of Ananias and Sapphira, a "Christian" couple who sought to have their cake and eat it too, just like Maxwell. Many in the early church were selling their possessions and giving the money to the church to assist with the care of needy people. However, they wanted to benefit from the giving and receiving so they decided to sell a property and give half to the church and keep the other half for themselves while all the time saying that they were giving the entire amount.

When they brought the money to Peter he reacted. "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price for the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold was it not your own to control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Acts 5:3, 4 We might think, "You gotta be kidding. Who would be that dumb?"

We would. Daily we try to sneak things past God. We tell ourselves it's okay, God won't mind. But He does. And the consequences could be eternal. There is no other court to overturn God's decisions. His rulings will stand as they did with Ananias and Sapphira.