What I do have I give to you.
Acts 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2 And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5 And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
11 While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. 16 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. 23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
In today’s text it says: Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. This man, lame from birth and not knowing the power of God, didn’t ask for healing. He asked instead for just a small amount of money. Every day it was the same, he hoped to receive enough for the day, but had no expectation that his circumstance would change. Peter and John didn’t have any coins to spare for the man, but instead they gave him what he needed rather than what he wanted or expected. Through the power of the name of Jesus Christ, the man’s life was instantly and eternally changed. He had been born lame and he became a beggar. He was reborn, whole and healed. He became one who praised God, rather than asked of men.
There is often a difference between what people want, what they ask for and what they really need. Very often we as followers of Christ are distracted by what people ask for. We become focused on trying to sustain them in their circumstance, giving them what they ask for the day. But, nothing changes. The next day comes and their need is still there. In Deuteronomy 15:11 God says: For there will never cease to be poor in the land; that is why I am commanding you to open wide your hand to your brother and to the poor and needy in your land. In Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7 and John 12:8 Jesus says: “The poor you will always have with you.” We don’t have the financial resources to permanently change the circumstances of the poor. It doesn’t mean that we should not help them when we can. But like Peter and John, we should recognize that we have something way beyond what they expect or ask. We have the power of the name of Jesus. We have something to give them beyond what they want. We have what they need. Through the power of the cross, people can be changed. Their circumstance can be forever changed. Far too often, the church and believers get caught up in the debate of whether we should serve the poor and needy, supplying what they want or evangelizing and giving them what they need. We are not to be like the world. The world today is divided, polarized on nearly everything. Jesus says we are to find and enter through the narrow way. The narrow way of Christ though is not found on one side or the other. It is found in doing both. We should do all that we can to daily supply what people ask, but we should never lose sight of what they need and giving them what is the only answer for their need, Jesus Christ.
There are many churches today which speak to the world about the blessings and promises of God, available to those who come. Many people come seeking and asking for the blessings, seeking to get what they want. There are indeed unlimited blessings and promises from God available. We should though never lose sight of what Peter says in today’s text: God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways. The greatest blessing, the most important thing we can tell others about is how to get what they need, not what they want. Peter’s first two sermons are recorded in Acts. They have been part of our text these last two days. Peter told the people plainly what they needed. Jesus first sermon is recorded in Matthew 5. In verses 3-11, Jesus speaks of the blessings of God. He says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The blessings of God don’t always look like the blessings on earth. In Matthew 6, Jesus continues teaching about the things that everyone desires and asks for. In verse 33, He says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The greatest blessing of all, the thing people need the most, is the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus came that we would have abundant life. (John 10:10) But first and foremost He came that we would be changed; that we would seek the kingdom not for the blessing, but through His righteousness.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for giving us what we need not what we want. As the psalmist says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. It is true, when we have life with You, we have all that we need and want. Amen.