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. 22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” 24 Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”
Simon saw the way in which the disciples were transformed when filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead of understanding the infilling of the Holy Spirit as a way for the good news of Jesus Christ to be spread throughout the world he immediately began to imagine the ways in which his life could be enhanced. The Holy Spirit was powerful and lives were being changed and people healed as a result. If only he could harness this power he could make money! Basil the Great reminds us however, that “the Spirit’s power is not a business transaction.” The Holy Spirit is not presented for the love of power, but for the love of Jesus.
Peter pronounced judgement on him, not because of vengeance but because of justice. What the man was wanting to do was simply wrong and the results would be catastrophic in his own life. The grace of Jesus was extended to Simon who was offered repentance. If he would have the right heart, he would seek with the right spirit then the love of power would dissolve and the love for Christ would consume.
The love of power can be intoxicating. Wielding gifts and talents given by God with the wrong motivations can lead to a very destructive path. We hate being reminded of that and may even take offense when being corrected. But correction may be coming from a heart of love that is trying to deter the individual from misusing what has come from God.
Power can be manifested in many ways in our lives. Little children, early on, learn the power of manipulation. It’s amazing how such little humans can control a room of adults! Later in life we find power in relationships in which there is to be mutual love and submission. The love of power encourages one to dominate the other. In different countries of the world people of particular race or ethnic backgrounds may simply be born to power. Without realizing they have been born with the privileges of power people assume it is simply the natural state and love their positions. As people accumulate wealth they exercise power. When justice begins to question the role that power may be playing righteous indignation often ensues.
The good news is that there is room for repentance. Peter revealed to Simon the depth of his sin but also provided him a way out. Confronting the love of power may be necessary to help bring us to the place of repentance. We can be set free from the love of power and be bound by the love of Christ.
Lord, may your love consume me today and every day. Amen.
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