Acts 8: 18-21
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God.”
Simon, a former magician, has been baptized with water by Philip, an evangelist, and later receives the Holy Spirit through the apostles Peter and John. Upon seeing the gift of the Spirit bestowed by the apostles, Simon also wants this gift and offers silver to obtain it. But, through these verses and the ones following, we see that he is rebuffed and that they can see Simon’s true heart. Simon’s obvious surprise at this makes me think that even he didn’t realize his heart was unclean, that his offer of silver was more than inappropriate given that he was in the “chains of wickedness” (vs. 22).
Every morning, I begin with a prayer familiar to many, in which I ask God to “create in me a clean heart.” But, could it really be that easy? Surely, God can create a clean heart in me and could also in Simon, we have only to look at the miracles Jesus performed to know that is true. But for me, I’m not sure what I would learn from an instantaneous cleansing. Most of the miracles I have seen in my life came with a little hard work and diligence in my prayers. So, each morning I do begin that prayer, I read the psalms, and the readings for that day. I study, through EfM, the books of the Old Testament, and other works of theology scholars and maybe that is how God will work this miracle of a clean heart in my life. Each day, little by little I feel some of those deep unacknowledged unclean bits of my heart being swept away.
We don’t know what happened to Simon, we only know that he was sent away to repent and pray. Perhaps that is what these verses are saying to me. Go, repent and pray that God through the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit will create in me a clean heart.
One thing I do know is that God’s love for me never changes, it is deep and steadfast. But, the more I go away to repent and pray and do a little more housekeeping in my heart, I find that it is me who moves closer to God; me that falls a little more in love with Him.
Lois Vanderbok, EfM year 1