Sunday, September 28, 2008

Give What You've Got

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

                        Acts 3.6

Seeing the Greater Need

Strictly speaking, The Acts of the Apostles doesn’t start until Chapter 3. The first chapter describes Christ’s Ascension and final words to His followers: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Chapter 2 tells how the Spirit came on Pentecost and chronicles Peter’s first great sermon, as well as the Early Church’s inception as a faith community. Not until the third chapter do we witness a specific apostolic act.

Peter and John come to the temple for afternoon prayers. A disabled beggar at its gate asks them for money. They don’t open their purses and the beggar turns his attention elsewhere. “Look at us!” Peter says; the beggar complies, expecting to receive some change. “It’s not what you want,” Peter explains, “but I’ve got what you need.” Empowered by the Holy Spirit and authorized by Christ, he tells the beggar (crippled from birth) to walk. As Peter helps him to his feet, strength enters the man’s body. To the amazement of all, he enters the temple with the apostles, walking, leaping, and praising God. What should amaze us, however, is Peter’s quickness to look beyond the man’s expectations and speak God’s power to his greater need. This epitomizes Christianity in action.

Our Power

Although Peter’s calling to lead the church was unique, the power He received was not. In his Pentecost message, he stressed the Holy Spirit “is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2.39) So, does having the same power as him mean we can or should perform the same feats—heal homeless people, for instance? Those who think so are entitled to their beliefs. But even others who recoil from such a literal idea should heed Peter’s example. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, His power transforms how we approach and respond to the world. We go past what’s expected of us to meet the greater need. We turn faith into service.

Fanning the Flame

In 2 Timothy 1, Paul reminds us “to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you,” adding, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” God provides us special gifts and asks us to stir them to life. In our daily activities certainly, but also when entering the halls of faith, we should watch and listen for opportunities to apply our talents to unmet needs. God hasn’t given you a timid spirit. He’s given you the power to love others and the ability to discipline yourself by His Spirit. His gift is in you. You have something people need. Be like Peter. Give what you’ve got.

The Holy Spirit empowers us go beyond what's expected and meet the greater need.

(Tomorrow: Strong Shoulders)

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