GOD’S FAVOR IS NOT FOR SALE.
Simon, the Great, had gained fame with his magic. When he could not do what Peter did through the Spirit of God, Simon attempted to buy into the power of God’s Spirit. Peter rebuked Simon severely and said, “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money” (Ac.8: 20). Simon realized his error and repented for trying to buy his way into God’s favor.
Simon was not an exception. Multitudes have tried to buy their way into favor with men, nations and a deity. The U.S.A. has spent billions to make friends in the world and has failed and so have other nations. The people of Israel linked their obedience to the Law directly to material prosperity. Their obedience to God was a payment for prosperity. All the prophets held that Israel’s decline in prosperity was the result of disobedience to God’s laws. Christians likewise fell into the same trap. Prosperity became evidence that we were favored of God. Only, it was God paying us back. Now that things do not go so well, we start blaming ourselves for not having been more faithful to His laws; particularly, His grace. We almost envy those that are prospering and are not of our faith (Ps.73: 3,12). Prosperity can be a camel that keeps us from obtaining God’s ultimate gift for us (Mk.10: 25). It can become our only reward and an unbearable disappointment (Lk.6: 24; 12: 16-21). God’s gift or favor cannot be bought at any price; nor, is it free for the taking. How then can we please Him?
Let us begin with Simon. He discovered that God is not unreasonable and impossible. In fact, Jesus insisted that the Father did make it possible (Mk.10: 27). He does not want us to be what we cannot be; namely, gods (Gen.3: 22). God had not intended for us to be gods. We are doing that ourselves and keep on failing. We do have a godly form but no longer the nature to succeed (II Tim.3: 5). Like Adam, we keep on surrendering to the pleasures of the flesh and there were never enough apples to please everyone (Gen.3: 1-6). God cannot be other than Spirit; yet, He loved the pride of His creation; namely, man (Jn.3: 16). The entire cosmos is not as valuable to Him than one of us (Mt.6: 26; 16: 26). We made Him sorry that He made us (Gen.6: 6). Instead of wiping us off His mind, He assumed human form in Jesus and tried to win us back (Mt.1: 23). And what does God have to show for sacrificing His Son? We made Him give up on us (Ro.1: 18-32). The choice as to whom we follow has always been ours (Josh.24: 15).
Simon, what did he do? First and foremost, he admitted that he was wrong and that he did wrong. He was guilty and he knew it. This is where most of us hesitate. Any suggestion that we, as individuals, or as a nation have not been forthcoming in making friends via generosities is creating verbal dissatisfaction. We think of ourselves as a unique people that ought to be praised, rather than judged. We have blocked from our memory the blood we have shed to get where we are. When will we realize that what we are doing is wrong? It shall be after we admit that we have sinned that the second thing we must do shall become apparent; and that means, we must repent. Simon did not merely say that he was sorry; rather, he gave up his old sinful life. It was not an instant transformation as if one moves from one place to another, but a life long process of reconciliation with his past and his future. When I decided to follow Christ, my conscience would not leave me in peace until I made things right as much as I could with my past. While I am traveling toward that narrow gate, I continue to repair my path behind me. Life is a continuous journey of reconciliation. And that is what repentance is all about. It is also the least God wants of us and it is not for sale! Those of us that lean on grace to make up for our unwillingness to change ought to consult the author of grace (Mt.16: 24-28). We cannot buy God’s favor; we must become worthy to receive it.