The Episcopal Church used to have a curious way of raising money. Called the “pew rental system,” individual parishioners or families would lease a pew for the upcoming year. Of course, the wealthier you were and the more you gave, the closer your pew was to the front.
This really just boils down to entitlement. And we all succumb to this temptation. If we have money, and there is something that we want, then there should be no stopping us.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter runs into this same problem. A magician named Simon was converted and baptized because he saw that the power of God was greater than whatever tricks he could conjure. As time went on, and Simon saw how powerfully the Holy Spirit was working in the lives of the new believers, he coveted that same Spirit: “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying ‘Give me also this power so that anyone whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18-19). He had money, he felt entitled.
But God is not for sale. Peter rebukes Simon, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!” (8:20).
In our lives as Christians, we are not entitled to anything. No matter how rich or poor we are, the gift of God is just that, a gift.