What if you do have the money?
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God,10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. – Acts 3:1-10
I am thankful for the financial resources God has entrusted to me and my family. I look forward to facing my later years without relying on my children to pay my bills. We have paid off our cars and carry no credit card debt. So if I walk past a beggar in need, I do have gold or silver which I can share.
On a more personal level, we have friends in Africa who are continually in need for money. Whether it’s for a broken-down car, children’s schooling, or medical crises, we very occasionally hear of their needs. We’ve helped several times over the months and years. Now we learn of another need. We’re praying about how to respond. We could certainly just send them some money.
I’m not sure, however, whether that’s a good thing or not. In fact, there is danger in simply giving money to needy people. We can end up enabling poor behaviors to the point that helping becomes hurting. There’s even a book with the title: When Helping Hurts. It’s like giving a healthy and capable hungry person a fish in stead of teaching him how to fish.
Peter does not have to make that distinction on this occasion. He has no silver or gold. But he does have something even more valuable. The power of the Holy Spirit, a miraculous gift of healing and a heart of true kindness and love motivates him to offer this truly better thing. Peter heals the man.
Financial wellbeing is a gift and a curse. We are able to do things, help people, live without worry about the necessities of life, and avoid being under the stress of constant financial pressure. But we can all too easily forget our greater need for God’s mercies and daily provision. We can forget God or even replace him with the idol of our money.
O God, do not give me so much that I lose sight of my need for you, nor so little that I despair of your grace. And help me to use the wealth and resources faithfully: for your glory and my neighbor’s good.