Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Acts 8:20-23
Some people think that the disciples were just nice and gentle and spreading the love like the hippies in the 60’s movement. Here is Peter, who spent 3 years following Jesus absolutely everywhere, filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit and he says this to a new convert! Charles Wesley wrote a hymn called, “Gentle, Jesus meek and mild.” He is, but he’s also “Firey, Jesus bold and wild!”
How you use money is a great test of the heart. Ananias and Sapphira learnt the hard way, dying on the spot when lying about money. Here’s Simon’s test. He’d been following Phillip for some time, and had been baptised, so he had the elementary teachings of Christ. And he so wanted the power to lay hands on people and see them baptised with the Holy Spirit, he thought he could simply pay some money.
Peter boldly rebukes him. Using the Gift of discernment, he calls him on the condition of his heart. The fact that he “followed” Phillip around, and that he wanted the ability outlined previously, says that he wanted to go further in ministry. Peter effectively steps him down from ministry, but gives him an option. If you repent of this wickedness, and pray in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
I haven’t ever been so blunt with anyone in ministry like this before. But Peter was completely correct in the words he spoke. He didn’t skirt around it and say, just journal a bit, come to this home group, do the alpha course, blah blah, blah, you’ll be ok. He spoke the word of the Lord to him. This is tough Love. We can learn from this boldness.
The good news is that Simon received this word, and we can safely assume he continued in ministry. It says Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” This is the first sign of a repentant heart.
I pray that Godly leaders will speak to me so boldly if I ever go off the tracks like that. And I pray for boldness to speak the truth to others like that when it’s needed. In Jesus name Amen.