Not for Sale
Mighty God, I praise You today as the great creator and sustainer of the marvelous earth and sky.
Read Acts 8:9-25
 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,  and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.”  They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.  But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.  When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.  When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,  because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.  When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money  and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.  Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.  For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”  Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”  After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat great mistake did Simon the (former) sorcerer make?
Simon is accustomed to being the one with spiritual power. He seems genuinely surprised that there is a spiritual power that he didn’t even know about. So he attempts to purchase the authority. As Peter explains to Simon, the Holy Spirit cannot be bought with money but rather is sent to us freely, a wonderful gift from God (20). In making his request, Simon makes two mistakes which we, too, might make: the first is his motivation. Simon wants authority, he wants to be important. To put it bluntly, his motive is pride. We, too, are sometimes guilty of asking God to work through us so that we will be praised. The second error is Simon’s attempt to bargain with God. We might be tempted to think that God “owes” us something because of our faithfulness. Or we might suggest a barter arrangement: “Lord, if you do X for me, I will do Y for you.” Sometimes I hear people say, “If anyone deserves to have his prayer answered, it’s Jimmy.” Our God delights to give good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11), but they are exactly that: gifts–neither bought nor earned.
What lesson(s) might you learn from Simon’s experience here? Thank God for the free gift of his Holy Spirit.
Lord, You’ve given me many wonderful gifts, most especially Your Holy Spirit living within me. How very thankful I am!