Acts 8:20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”
I think Peter was floored at Simon’s request, because it had never crossed his mind. However, in the centuries since, many have indeed treated the gifts of God as merchandise, things with which to gain money or power or what have you. That was how Simon was seeing them, which is why he wanted to invest in the process. It is ironic that both people in this exchange had the same name, though Simon Peter most often used the nickname Jesus had given him. I think that shows how each of us has the potential to be on either side of such situations. In our flesh we can be like Simon Magus, but by the Spirit we can be like Simon Peter. Peter encouraged Simon to repent and get right with God, but one tradition says that he never did so, but traveled to Cyprus and used the name Elymas, where he had a dramatic encounter with Paul (Acts 13:4-12) That seems unlikely to me, because there are plenty of people who seek supernatural power without wanting to be submitted to God. That, incidentally, is the danger in such things as the Harry Potter series. On one level they are harmless fantasy, allegories of the conflict between good and evil, but the devil can use them to provoke a lust for supernatural power much as Simon Magus had. For some, they might promote a receptivity to the things of God, but for others they might have the opposite effect. The whole point of this encounter being recorded in the Bible is that the things of God cannot be bought and sold, and must not be thought of that way.
This is an important thing for me to keep in focus right now, because I feel I am to start teaching again on spiritual gifts. I’ve got to keep in clear focus, for myself and for those whom I teach, the reality that these are grace gifts, not something earned, much less bought. They are not merit badges! I desire that everyone in the church be fully open to the flow of the Holy Spirit through them, however He chooses to move. I pray that for myself! There is so much I want to impart, and I feel such constraints. My time with them is limited, but even more than that, their receptivity is limited. I need to pray first for open ears and hearts, and then for me not to get in the way of what the Lord wants to do through me. I need to stand firm on behalf of my hearers against the devil who would try to block or confuse the message, so that receiving God’s truth they may be set free to walk in all that He intends for them.
Father, I feel like I have a mountain of material I want to impart, and I can’t do it all at once. I ask first of all that You renew it in me, so that none of it will be simply academic, but all would be living, present reality. I pray that I would have Your wisdom especially as to what to teach when and how, so that human considerations won’t get in the way of the impartation of the Spirit. May we all be filled more and more, continuously, with Your Holy Spirit, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!