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
We’re living in a day of the commercialization of God, of people going to church to find out what God will do for them. Instead of focusing on the goodness of giving to God, some folks focus on receiving blessing from God. These people have betrayed God for a price, expecting Him to act like Santa Claus and dispense blessing because of their giving. There are many names for this—prosperity theology, name-it-and-claim-it theology—but they all refer to people relating to God only for the goodies they want Him to provide.
In Acts 8:14-24, we meet possibly the first prosperity gospel preacher, Simon. According to verse 13, Simon believed and was baptized. But he brought with him into the church the materialistic mentality of his culture, which is idolatry. When Simon saw Christianity, he saw dollar signs. He worshipped the almighty dollar. “When Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money” (verse 18). Simon wanted the power, prestige, and income that could come from Christianity; he wanted to make his own profit from God’s work.
The heart of materialism is greed. Nothing is wrong with having or wanting things, but when those things take precedence in your life over eternal things, including your relationship with God, you have become greedy.