“Simon saw that the Spirit was given to people when the apostles laid their hands on them. So he offered the apostles money, saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands will receive the Holy Spirit.’ Peter said to him, ‘You and your money should both be destroyed, because you thought you could buy God’s gift with money.'” (Acts 8:18-20 NCV)
Simon was “the guy” in Samaria. He had the power of God – the great power, as they called it. For a price, he’d find a way to make a miracle happen for the people there. Then, the persecution began in Jerusalem and disciples scattered, preaching the gospel as they went. Simon was the one to be amazed as Philip proclaimed the gospel and performed signs and wonders. Then, when the apostles came and were used to give the Holy Spirit to people, he knew that he had to have that power also, whatever the cost. Peter let him know in no uncertain terms that this gift from God could not be bought.
We have two interesting cases involving money within a few chapters. Ananias and Sapphira sought to buy prestige in the community by giving a gift and lying about their faith. That led to their deaths. Simon sought to buy this power from God. I can’t help but believe that Peter knew that Simon intended to turn a profit. He’d run commercials on late night TV offering people the chance to get this amazing power from God for 19.95 drachmas, or something like that. There’s a difference between making a living from proclaiming the gospel and making a killing off of God’s power. Many have sought to exploit their “special” relationship with God to gain exorbitant wealth. Their adherents follow them without hesitation, while many outside their circles see them much like Peter saw Simon. While we should support those preaching the gospel, we should never imagine that salvation, nor any power from God can be bought or sold. God grants us power even beyond what we’re able to imagine, but never gives us the ability to buy or sell His power. All we can do is use it as God intended to proclaim the gospel.
Lord, give me Your power that I might be able to share Your love and grace with others. Let me share Your power freely with everyone I can.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved