Acts 8:1b-25; Deuteronomy 33-34; Job 20
What do people value? If you google the phrase “Money can’t buy happiness” and look at the images, you’ll discover what money can buy that’s pretty much the same things as happiness, or what money can buy to make your misery feel a little less bad. Humans have become so accustomed to everything having “monetary value” that in putting a price on everything, we have devalued the invaluable. The environment can be destroyed because a company can make more money that way. People are seen as commodities to be used, used up, and traded to increase one’s net worth. All for the pursuit of money. Very few of these people are content with what life brings.
We see evangelists and pastors today who are truly living high off the hog. Their books and “tapes” are making them millions and they live in huge mansions, protected by gates and security officers. Hmmmm. Some of the evangelists are less honest in their approach and offer you specially blessed items that will cause, maybe even force, God to answer your prayers or provide healing, if you send them enough money. The early church used money to minister to others and did so fairly effectively. They cared for widows and orphans. They made sure that people who lost their jobs because of faith were taken care of. They didn’t, however, sell their souls to gain money. “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.” (Acts 8:12-14)
So what does this story have to do with money? Simon was well known in Samaria as a miracle worker, or a magician. People called him “The Great Power of God.” He probably made a pretty good living as a miracle worker. Then, because of the persecution, Philip came along and started preaching the gospel accompanied by healing and miracles. The magician saw what was going on and believed and was baptized. Then, when the other apostles came to check out this Samaritan revival and their prayers were used to fill believers with the Holy Spirit, he was beside himself and offered the apostles good money to gain that same power. Think of all the people in the church that could have been helped with that money. Peter saw an ulterior motive: Simon was going to use this gift as leverage to gain money. He rebuked him.
What will people do for money or applause. Ananias and Sapphira lied about money to gain applause. Simon offered cash to gain a gift of God to extort money from people spiritually. The leaders of the early church maintained their integrity in regards to money by calling out Ananias and Sapphira and their attempt to gain praise, and by refusing to accept a gift that would have commercialized the power of God. How people handle money is a great way to judge their character. “Oh, but we shouldn’t judge!” We don’t have the right to make ultimate judgments about people, but I make judgments about the kind of people I want to be around. When someone, Christian or non-Christian, uses money to keep score and abuses people and/or this world we live in to gain money, I don’t want to be around them. On the other hand, when they realize that wealth is a gift from God to be used to help others and further His kingdom, I can be around people like that: they will help me grow closer to God. Perhaps the attitude we need to have is that “Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can buy opportunities to care for others, which is pretty much the same thing.”
Lord, how easy it is to compare myself with other people who have all the latest gadgets, that I want, and live a luxurious lifestyle and then that I don’t have enough. Remind me that unless I am content in my relationship with You, I’ll never have enough. Help me to remember that when I’m content in my relationship with You, I’ll never be able to give enough.