When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
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. (Acts 8:18-21)
Poor Simon! His magic powers made him a big deal in his Samaritan city, but then Philip, Peter and John came to town. Not only did Simon’s sorcery business drop off when many people began believing in Jesus instead of his magic, it totally collapsed when Simon himself came to faith. Though it seems he sincerely believed, Simon thought that things in the kingdom of God worked like they do in the world, where power was a commodity that could be bought and solid. We might think to ourselves, “How foolish could he be?”
And yet we often do exactly the same thing. We probably would not be so crass as to offer money for relief or power from God. But we might give our effort or energy in the hope that God will lift us up out of our guilt and shame and on to a higher plane.
It takes a lot of courage to take an honest look at the condition of one’s own heart. The darkness and corruption that we see there repels us. But it does not repel Jesus. He says to us, “Bring your sin-stained heart to me and let me cleanse it from the inside out.”
It’s Jesus’ love that gives us the courage to be honest with ourselves and transparent before others. We badly want everything to be right in our lives, and we know that it isn’t. But Jesus has already made us right before our Father in heaven and that makes all the difference. We don’t need to hide or try to manage our sin. With Jesus, our sin is forgiven before we even ask.
Confession is very important, but for our sakes, not God’s. Confession re-orientates us toward the God who already loves us, already accepts us and already forgives us.
You can lay down your tools. The work is complete. Jesus did it all! You can rest in his love for you.
Dear Jesus, help me to truly believe that you already love and accept me. Help me to fully open my heart before you so you can cleanse and heal it with your forgiving love. Amen.