"Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God." Acts 3:6-8 (NIV)
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray. At the gate, they saw a familiar face - the face of a beggar, lame from birth, who was carried each day to the temple gate called Beautiful. There he spent his days crying out to those going into the temple courts-begging for money from the passersby.
As Peter and John approached they heard his cries and recognized that his needs went much deeper than the few coins he might garner throughout the day. He needed to be made whole so that he could stand on his own two feet, so that he could work for a living and so that he could know the healing power of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
They did not offer him silver or gold, but gave him the most valuable thing they could give him - their faith. They reached out, took his hands and helped him to his feet - all in the name of Jesus, and as they prayed God poured his strength and healing power in the lame man. He began to walk and jump and praise God.
Today we look around and see so many people in need. Our hearts are moved with compassion, but we aren't rich, we don't have unlimited funds to help, but is that really what they need? Our government hands out assistance checks to those in need every month, but year after year they are in the same position, crippled by poverty, lame due to a lack of education, and sitting alone because they have no one who cares enough to show them a better way.
As the body of Christ, we have the answer. We know the One who heals the lame, turns lives around and puts joy in the hearts of the redeemed. What we need to do is reach out, help the impoverished to their feet and give them what we have - the healing love of Jesus.
It's easy to think, "that was Peter and John, we don't have the power to heal the way they did," but if we read just a bit further, we discover that Peter and John were mere men like you and I.
"When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. Acts 3:9-11 (NIV)
(Notice that the man held on to Peter and John. Handing someone money, then walking away never solved anything. Hurting people need someone to hold onto. They need someone who is strong to show them the way, to help them get firmly on their feet - someone who will walk along side of them until they are strong enough to stand on their own.)
Peter wanted the people witnessing this miracle to know that he and John were not responsible for this healing.
When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" Acts 3:12 (NIV)
By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. Acts 3:16 (NIV)
It wasn't Peter and John who healed the lame man. They did not possess the power to heal, nor did they possess great godliness. What they did possess was great faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and in His ability to change people's lives. Why? Because they had experienced this life-change for themselves after their encounter with Christ.
We can't help everyone, but we can reach a hand out to those that God puts in our path. We can lift them up by reaching out to them, walking along side them, praying for them and loving them with the love of Christ - not in our own power, but because of our faith in Jesus, the life-transformer.
Easy? No. Throwing money at a person in trouble is easy. It allows us to walk away with a semi-clear conscience, but it's not going to really help them. Reaching out is hard. It requires sacrifice, overcoming prejudices, giving of our time, our patience and our love until we are sure that this person has had an encounter with Jesus that will allow them to walk in victory.
God will strengthen us so that we in turn can strengthen others. Have faith that Jesus wants to help the lame and hurting people of this world and then - be His hand extended.
(Copyright© 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)