“Simplicity is the fruit of a life rooted in the soil of humility.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 26, 2022
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22, NKJV
Our culture values aspiration and calls it out as a virtue to be celebrated and pursued. Aspiration to greatness is the driving force behind hall of fame athletes, wildly successful businessmen and women, and politicians who win over the masses. Each of these sets their sights on a goal and begins to build their lives around the obtaining of the prize, collecting as they go the relationships and resources needed to succeed.
Simon in Acts 8 was a man of great aspiration, setting his sights on power as the ultimate goal and aim of life. Upon seeing the healing and restorative work of God at work, rather than being moved to worship and marvel at the goodness of God, he sees the Spirit as a force that can be contained and directed for his own ends. “Give me this power,” he says. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, Simon was “impressed with wonder, rather than being convinced of sin.” Helpfully, St. John also points out that Simon’s sin is two-fold, not only in his aspiration for power, but in his failure to honor and desire a simple life.
Simplicity is the fruit of a life rooted in the soil of humility.
What do I mean by simplicity? Often we attribute this word to a lack of knowledge or intellectual ability, a “simple minded” person. However, its true expression is found in a life free from the anxiety and distraction of complexity. Complexity comes in many forms. We can suffer from material complexity, amassing great wealth and possessions that require a never ending amount of time and attention, not to mention the emotional exhaustion that comes from managing one’s possessions. Complexity can also come in a relational form, leaving us spent as we overextend ourselves and fail to build habits of healthy differentiation or struggle to set necessary boundaries with the people in our lives.
Most of the time, we accept material and relational complexity as a necessary evil, an unavoidable part of our pursuit of the “good life.” Yet I wonder if it is here that we’ve finally identified the root ailment. Aspiration to greatness is, for the follower of Christ, a worthy pursuit. Might it be, however, that we’ve failed to first discern the true meaning of greatness?
To discover the joy and freedom of a simple life, we must first reject the lie that tells us meaning and purpose are found in a life of power, wealth, or influence. This is the way of Jesus and the only path to lasting peace. Simplicity, far from being a failure of ambition or lack of vision, is instead true greatness and the defining characteristic of a life fully devoted to Christ, resolved to know no higher joy than his cross and resurrection.
Father, give us a love for the simple ways of your kingdom, and keep our hearts free from a love of power, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In what ways do you see your own story within the story of Simon in Acts 8?
Vineyard Worship feat. Brenton Brown: Humble King
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