Some people are on that road …
because they want to be.
It is difficult for a true Believer to comprehend why any sane person would intentionally want to be in disagreement with God–especially considering the consequences. The fact is, however, that many today are in open opposition to God and want no part of Him regardless of consequences.
The reason, no matter what they say, is that they are deceived. We know this. They do not. And in most cases, there is little we could say that would change their minds because they refuse to hear. This is so because they are caught up in the apparent reasons that led them to their rejection of God.
I say ‘apparent’ because the real reason is seldom the apparent reason. This was the case with Simon in today’s Scripture passage. Earlier in Acts 8, we learn that he was a sorcerer and practiced magic. He impressed a lot of people (and apparently impressed himself).
In verse 13, he made a decision to believe in Jesus–but he had a lot yet to learn. I will go on a brief tangent and say that this is a good lesson for us to not be quick to reject people who do not believe exactly as we do. They may have a lot to learn too. Will we give them grace? Peter did and Simon repented. If Peter had rejected Simon, he would have remained the “lost cause” he was before.
When Simon saw what Peter and John were doing, he wanted that ability. In verse 23, Peter opposes him sharply and goes to the heart of his problem: “For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Bull’s eye! Unseen bitterness, not apparent sorcery, was his root issue.
While “there is little we could say that would change their minds”, there is a lot God can say. Our responsibility is to see them as He sees them. Regardless of what they do or say, God desires to redeem them as much as He desired to redeem us and as much as He desires for us to be mature in Him.
Buckle your seat belts–this is going to be uncomfortable: Do we see these hard cases–these potentially troublesome and intractable people–this way? No, for the most part. We already have them judged and condemned in our minds. We react to them as their behavior influences us, not as Holy Spirit in us wants to respond to them. In other words, we get in the way.
Understand: I am neither dismissive of the significant damage to our cause by some of these nor saying that we should allow them to do so without opposition. I am saying that there is a balance to achieve. Though at times we MUST oppose them, we must always be aware that God desires to reach them, heal their root issues, and restore them as He did for Simon. “Hard row to hoe.” as my farmer-granddad would say.
There are bad actors doing a lot of bad things today that are in open conflict with God, morality, reason, and sometimes even sanity. Our challenge is to respond as God desires to respond, not as we through our flesh natures often respond. This is truly a fine line to walk, and though hard, this message must needs be said.
Simon, immature and not yet understanding, wanted to use God for his own purposes. Peter sharply cut to the heart of his issue and Simon repented. Could you imagine a better scenario for some of these troubled and troublesome ones we see in the world today? Their repentance and submission to God could undo a lot of damage in a very short time.
How about we pray for and work toward that end rather than focusing on what new depth of depravity the network news, a podcast, or some social media outlet reports this evening. What do you think God would have us do? (Yeah, that’s what I think too.)
Today’s Seed™ Scripture and Prayer for May 12, 2023:
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. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Act 8:18-23 NIV)
Prayer: LORD, when I encounter people who openly and sometimes shockingly reject You, help me see them as You see them. I want them to have an opportunity to choose for You or against You without the influence of the enemy’s deception or the root of their bitterness. Help me to be mindful, however, that their choice is between You and them. Give me courage to surrender the outcome–and the care of it–to You. Use me as You need to reach those who seem unreachable. Do whatever You need to do to make it so for them and for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved • http://www.e-min.org
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‘Today’s Seed’ from E-MIN • May 12, 2023
About Randall Vaughn:
With 40+ years as pastor, author, teacher, worship leader, and songwriter, Randall pioneered E-MIN in 1997–one of the earliest online ministries and today the longest operating. His passion is leading people to deeper, genuine relationship with God. He lives in Alabama with his lovely wife, Karen, and their dogs, Hadi and Rayah. He enjoys hiking, exploring new tech, and “prayer walks”.
Copyright (c) 2023 Randall Vaughn • All Rights Reserved.
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