Before we can dive into buying God, we need some anchor verses, verses that keep us in alignment with the will of God.
“Now when Simon [the Sorcerer] saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,” (Acts 8:18) “But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!…” (Acts 8:20)
I’m sure many of us have heard sermons based on this passage in the book of Acts. Yet, I would ask that we look at the issue of trying to buy what God gives.
Faithless giving to gain
You may think, “Oh, that is ancient history. I’ve never heard of someone trying to buy something from God.” Really? How many Christians have given a little extra in their alms (money after paying your tithe), hoping God will bump their blessing up to a 100x blessing? “Oh, I’ll be happy with 30 or 60, but I sure hope God gives me that 100-fold blessing.1” That is trying to buy God.
At the core of trying to buy God are a lack of faith and evil intent. Consider the raising of hands during church worship. This physical praise can be lovely and pure when our hearts demonstrate our love of God and appreciation of His mercy and grace. God’s Word calls this a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15), not a gain of praise.
Our actions can be an attempt to buy God if we raise our hands, not to praise him but to get in on His blessings. We see other people raising their hands, and we want the same blessings they appear to be receiving. It’s an affront to God when we try to buy what He gives freely to those He wishes to bless.
I’ve heard testimonies that were nothing but advertisements or attempts to gain recognition. One time, a man stood up and told the congregation how his great grandmother had written a hymn that was in our hymnal. That’s a good human-interest story, but I knew this person. He was trying to elevate himself by what someone else had done. That’s buying God.
The good news is that, as Christians, you and I know God’s promise in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.“
This passage is not a “name it and claim it” faith. It is not a give to receive faith. It is a knowledge that we gain as we live with God in us. As we change, leaving behind worldliness, we begin to think like Jesus and to live like Jesus. We are not trying to be another Jesus, rather, we are striving to live like Jesus, to be holy, to be completely sacrificial, to love as God loves.
Please allow me to share a personal testimony. Many years ago, I was preparing to become a missionary and to take my family with me. At that time, I didn’t have two nickels to rub together.
A few months before, I had developed a new product and just as things looked grim, I received a royalty payment. I started to feel a bit of relief, but God stepped in. I felt God urging me to give all that royalty check to the missions’ organization. That was a tough struggle for me, but I did what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do.
I didn’t give that money to receive anything. That didn’t cross my mind. My battle was, “Is this God or is it a foolish thought?” I realized it was God, so a gave. Very shortly thereafter I was hired as a contract programmer.
That contract provided me with enough money to pay off all my debt and move my family and me to Eastern Europe, and it funded the beginning of our missionary work. We were blessed to work with an American missionary, Ruth, and a Romanian missionary, Sandor. God created a missionary team out of thin air. To me, this was God’s miraculous work; where He guides, He provides.
However, at no time did we “give to get” or “name it and claim it.” I was obedient in a very small thing, and God poured out His blessings until it overflowed in my life and over into the lives of others. That’s love. That’s God.
God doesn’t take bribes
When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and give of our time, our skills, our finances, all in faith, with pure intent and humility, then we will live within the will of God, we will be pleasing to God, and receive what He knows we need. All of this without ever needing to bribe God. I think that’s good news!
- (see Matthew 13:8 to learn about the 30, 60, 100-fold increase
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