Acts 8:18-22 – “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”
Let me give a little background to put this scripture in context. Simon’s background was in sorcery, and he was good at it. He was well known in the area for his “powers” and the people respected him. All of that dwindled once the gospel was preached and the people began to submit to the teaching of Phillip. In fact, Simon even gets saved and baptized and begins to hang around all these believers as well. In comes the apostles, Peter and John and they start laying hands on the saints and the “Holy Ghost was given” as it says in the scripture.
I used to think that Peter came down way too hard on Simon. After all, he’s a new convert. He just started to believe and still just had some of his old way in him, right? Well, not quite. What Peter discerned is simple. Simon, the sorcerer, never really had the heart change that comes with salvation. Simon was driven by power and respect. His reputation was his god. When he saw the power that the apostles had, his heart said “cha-ching!” This is a perfect picture of “commercial ministry.” We get fooled (or fool others) by doing a good work –aka “ministry”- but are really only concerned about what we can get out of it –which is a commercial, or business type of thinking. Peter took note and addressed him properly.
The scary thing to me is that I see the same thing now-a-days in ministry. For some of us, money is our God. We get saved (or go through the proper steps) and get baptized and then we start uncovering these spiritual gifts and talents and our heart says “cha-ching!” Yet we wonder why so many obstacles seem to get in between us and our dreams. But that’s the real problem right there. Our dreams should be to fellowship with The Father. Unfortunately, most of our dreams have “making it big” or “living the life” somewhere in the small print verbally, but in large, bold letters in our heart. I know because so many churches aren’t even preaching the gospel anymore. They’re preaching/selling a pathway to our (worldly) dreams and we just eat it up.
You see, on the outside Simon looked legit. I would even dare to say that Simon may not have intended to be fake. I say this only because his response to Peter was filled with fear. But I could be wrong about that. The Christian path is a narrow one that is all but impossible to find, much less actually stay on. Sometimes I think we take our eyes off of Christ and start focusing on something that we think is attached to Christ (Spouse, success on the job, etc.). Don’t be like Simon and find out too late that your heart’s desire isn’t attached to your heart’s messiah.
If you really want to know the truth (about yourself), I dare you to ask yourself one simple question. What means the world to you? There is a catch though. You can’t answer this question verbally. You’ve already answered it with how you spend your time and what you focus on. If you’re not focused on God’s Kingdom (which has absolutely nothing to do with personal success or comfort) and allowing Him to add all of those other things to you, I encourage you to repent and refocus. Align yourself to the word of God and move forward in Him, instead of in the temporary pleasures of this world. Are you trying to sell a CD or are you buying into the self-less life God has called you to? Be careful. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the tricky web called commercial ministry.