The Spirit Is a Gift
Holy Spirit, fill my heart and life today.
Read ACTS 8:9–25
9 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, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 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. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 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. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
25 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.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectMake a list of five presents you enjoyed receiving. Why did you like those gifts?
Up to this point in the story of Acts, the church has been comprised of Jewish believers, and its key tension in witness has been demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah. In today’s passage, the Gospel crosses cultural boundaries for the first time and is proclaimed to the Jews’ half-blood neighbors, the Samaritans. This ethnic group brings to its encounter with the Gospel a new set of issues that must be addressed. These issues include a fascination with magic and belief in the power of money.
If money can’t buy love, then it certainly can’t buy salvation. Simon of Samaria thought that he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Simon didn’t want the Spirit so that his own life could be transformed. He wanted control over the Spirit (19). He saw the activity of the Spirit as a form of magic and perhaps thought it would make him powerful and bring him fame. But no person has control over the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who empowers us. The Spirit comes to humanity as a gift from God (20), to enable us to be God’s people and to give us a foretaste of life in God’s kingdom.
Imagine the Spirit as a gift that God gives to you, to help you to become like him. How should you respond to this gift?
Gracious God, help me to understand and respond to Your Spirit in the right way.