Giving and Receiving

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:1-8, NRSV).

There’s a lot to unpack here. It’s a short story, and the actual story itself is pretty simple, but what this scripture means in its context for us has a lot of parts to it.

Peter and John were disciples, apostles, and Church leaders, but on this afternoon, they were no more spectacular than you or me. They were simply believers who were filled and led by the Spirit on their way to pray. When they got to the temple, they saw a man asking for help, and they had something to give him. It wasn’t what he asked for, but it was what he needed.

Peter and John gave because they had received. They’d never been healed from being lame, but they had received powers and gifts through the Spirit, and they received blessings to pass on to others. Peter said he was giving what he had, and Peter didn’t have because he was set apart from everyone else; he had because God gave to him.

This is what we are to do too. Jesus came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10) so that we can give to others out of that abundance. We are filled so that others won’t remain empty. We aren’t dragons hoarding the gold that is God’s goodness. We have so that we may gladly give (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

And this is a Jesus level miracle. It’s no small feat. Acts 3:10 (NRSV) says that the people who recognized the formerly lame man “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” And this is Peter we’re talking about. Peter, who only had a problem with boldness when he denied Jesus three times and had to face him again. Peter, who was on fire for God and had a fiery temper. Peter, who was just as flawed as he was magnificent.

That’s why I am so encouraged by this scripture. If someone like Peter can so positively impact the world around him for kingdom of God then there’s no reason you or I can’t as well. It wasn’t about Peter; it was about him allowing God to use him.

There’s a lot to learn from the man at the Beautiful Gate as well. He could’ve taken his blessing and left. He wouldn’t have been the only person in scripture to do so. But he chose to rejoice and praise God, to go into the temple and praise and pray. This should be our reactions to God’s blessings as well.

God is constantly exceeding our expectations. He certainly did for the man at the temple gate. The man was expecting money, not a miracle. Lack of money was a problem, but it was a result of the main problem: his physical condition. So instead of solving one problem, God solved them all. I think this man would agree with the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find / You get what you need.”

It’s a lot for such a small piece of scripture, but I think it’s what we all need to take to heart from time to time. Each of us, as imperfect as we are, can do astounding things through God. When God exceeds our expectations and when He blesses us, we should thank Him and pass on our blessings to others. In doing so, it strengthens our relationship with God and helps us and those around us.

By Carrie Prevette

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