Acts 8: 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money!
21 You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God.
Greetings in the peace, power and passion of Christ our Lord.
Churches and money; money and churches. For many it is the single greatest reason they avoid any community of faith. It seems all churches, mosques or synagogues are simply in the business of getting "your" money. One of my favorite comedians, George Carlin used to joke, "He (God) loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money!"
There is no disputing churches can use incredible manipulating means to try to separate people from the money they have been blessed to receive. You see it all the time in various forms:
1. Greed - sow a seed so you can reap a harvest. Give so you can get.
2. Competition- Publicly acknowledging who is giving what amount with different lines for different monetary amounts.
3. Extortion- Closing the doors to the church until enough money is collected to set you free. (I've experienced this personally).
4. Guilt- Beating you over the brow about how poor of a giver you are and how much God is angered by your lack of giving.
Finally, another way, as highlighted in the above text from Acts, is somehow selling to you God's blessings and favor. Simon, not the apostle but a magician, witnessed first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives. As an entertainer, he wanted to buy the Sacred Spirit so he could use God for profit and personal gain. Somehow God would help Simon to gain such worldly favor.
It seems similar to the hypocrisy of the prosperity gospel; prosperity preachers love to promise you financial wealth, optimal health, and "a hedge of protection around you and your family" if you will only be obedient to God and give your 10%. All God requires is complete obedience, especially in financial ways, and no harm shall ever come to you.
The dangerous reality of this teaching is the truth no matter how faithful and obedient we are to God, or active in our church ministry, or diligent in our duties of discipleship - we will know tragedy, trauma and terrible times in our life. So many disciples then lose their faith and trust in God because their faith cannot handle the reality of life. Even when the reality of life hits us, the realness of God does not leave us.
No one can buy God. God is not for sale. God's grace is not up for auction. God's love is not open to the highest bidder and God's blessings are not available to the boldest believer.
God has paid the price. God's love is freely given. God's grace is openly shared and distributed for everyone to receive because the love of God demonstrated through Jesus' shows us the vastness of God's desire to love us.
NO, we do not give of God's money entrusted to us (it ain't your money after all) to receive God's grace; we give out of our treasure because we have already received God's grace, love and blessings. Don't give out of greed. Don't give out of competition. Don't give out of extortion. Don't give out of guilt. Don't give to buy God's favor.
Give because God already gave to us.
Love, Pastor G