Peter answered, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” – Acts 8:29
This verse is a rebuke to Simon the Sorcerer. Apparently, he was a former affluent figure in the community who could consult spirits and amaze people with his sorcery. When the apostles were scattered due to persecution, they landed in his territory and began preaching the gospel. Simon ended up giving his life to Christ. When he saw the Holy Spirit received by the laying on of hands, he wanted the gift. He tried to buy it. He got sharply rebuked.
On the surface, it does not seem like such a bad request. I mean, Simon wanted to be a vessel in which others could receive the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately for him, he was ignorant of all that Peter and John had gone through with Jesus in order to receive such a gift. He didn’t know that such a gift had a price that went much deeper than money.
I’m just sitting here reading and thinking about this story and can’t help but apply it to my own life. I’ve been so wrong on many things concerning God. I remember for probably a decade that I thought God was after my good behavior. I basically spent all those years trying to be good and “do better” only to fail miserably time and time again. Thank God He made sure I failed, I can only imagine how awful life would be if I thought behaving well and following the rules made Him happy with me. Eventually, I learned that He wanted my heart. He wanted me to just learn how to spend time with Him. Once this happened, I wanted to behave and no longer had to behave. I could just imagine Peter saying to me, “May your good behavior perish with you because you thought you could be good enough to enter into His kingdom!”
As a pastor, I would have sworn to you that if the Presence of God was facilitated, if His Holy Spirit absolutely filled the atmosphere Sunday after Sunday, that people would not be able to resist it and would come and be saved. I got to be part of some crazy powerful services. Some would come and be so excited about the Presence of God. Others just didn’t connect with me, or what was going on. I was devastated when I had to leave, but God has taught me so much. Instead of trying to make sure that His Presence shows up on Sunday morning, it is now happening in front of my bus before I drive it. It is happening at breweries when I sing songs of praise to Him. It is happening when kids ask me to pray for them because they want to begin to grow in God. I don’t think He minded if we had His presence in the building, but He so much more desires it to be in our homes, places of work, and anywhere else we may find ourselves.
Lastly, I just finished a fast. It was probably the wimpiest fast I’ve ever done. I just cut out all sweets and junk food for 21 days. I normally go pretty hardcore and make sure I suffer. I thought the more I suffered, the more of Himself He would give me. This time, it turns out that He just made me feel a whole lot better physically. It turns out that He has allowed me to be so simple in just walking with Him daily. I have pursued nobody as far as witnessing or anything like that, yet he has placed so many in my path along the way so far in 2021. I think this is going to be a pretty amazing year.
Lord, there is no telling how many things in my heart, mind and life that I’ve just been wrong about. I know there are ways of thinking that seem good on the surface, but are just wrong. Will You help me to think rightly? I just want You . . . and nothing else. Help me to learn to truly walk with You. Help me with my own kids as I teach them to truly follow You. It is so tempting to just tell them all of the rules they need to follow and enforce them. Unfortunately, that does not make them want to give You their heart. Help me! Help all of those who are reading today. Use us to make a difference. Use us to bring Your presence to a dying world who knows not just how awesome and mighty You are. Amen