Simon saw that the Spirit had been given to the believers when the apostles placed their hands on them. So he offered money to Peter and John, and said, ‘Give this power to me too, so that anyone I place my hands on will receive the Holy Spirit.’
But Peter answered him, ‘May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in our work, because your heart is not right in God’s sight.’ (verses 18-21)
Read Acts 8:14-25
There are many things in the world named after particular people. We use people’s names for streets, buildings, mountains, rivers, towns, laws, businesses, companies, ships, trains, cars, clubs … and also sins. Well, at least one particular sin, that of simony.
It’s named after the Simon in this Bible reading, who was a magician famous among the Samaritans. He was a main attraction until the Holy Spirit, working through the apostles, began to outshine him with miracles and healings. Simon tried to do a deal; he attempted to buy the power of God’s Spirit. His offer was roundly rejected. The result of all this is that he has the rather dubious honour of having the sin of buying power or preferment in the church named after him.
His denunciation is a lesson to all of us who think we can use the church as a way of improving our position in society.
His denunciation is also a wonderful example of how God’s gifts are not for sale but are freely available to all who ask for them.
Dear God, preserve me from using your gifts for my own profit. But please make them available to me for the benefit of others. Amen.
by Richard Hauser, in ‘Guidance for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2002)
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