The book of Acts records the story of Simon the sorcerer, a man regarded by many to possess divine power. When Philip preached the kingdom of God in Samaria, Simon was dazzled by all the signs and miracles that he saw and followed Philip wherever he went. But his heart was not open to receiving the truth behind all those miracles. He could not accept the kingdom (lordship) of God.
Later, when he observed Peter and John laying their hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit, he coveted that power for himself. So he did what he would naturally do – offer them money so he could receive that same power. For Simon, this was a career move. It would make him more powerful and increase his standing among men. Simon thought that a one-time financial transaction would elevate his status. But a complete transformation of the heart was what was really needed.
Peter was able to read the spiritual condition of Simon the sorcerer’s heart and see his true motivation. He 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)
Peter’s insight revealed three insights into Simon’s spiritual heart condition:
- He thought he could buy the gift of God with money without yielding to Christ’s lordship.
- His heart was not right before God, nor was it clear that Simon would ever want it to be.
- His heart was full of bitterness and captive to sin.
Simon’s response is revealing. He answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” Although Peter plainly spoke the truth about Simon’s spiritual heart condition, the man didn’t want to change. He would not come into agreement with Peter about his spiritual condition and repent of his sin. He just asked Peter to pray that he would be spared of the consequences of it.
When asking your donor for financial support, what is the spiritual condition of their heart? Are they yielded to the spirit of God and willing to act in obedience to what He directs them to do with their money? Or is their spiritual condition not right before God, where greed, idolatry, selfishness, or pride get in the way of their generosity?
Our job, as fundraisers in God’s kingdom, is to first understand the spiritual condition of the other person, because that spiritual condition will determine their kingdom-aligned response. And perhaps God will use you to activate a genuine heart transformation as you encourage them in their giving.