…But Such as I Have…
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. Acts 3:6 KJV
The Acts 3 record of Peter and John’s seemingly serendipitous encounter with the lame beggar offers us some wonderful insights and encouragements in our own respective walks in Christ. I say “seemingly serendipitous” because we realize there is no happenstance in our relationship with God. There is always purpose and meaning to be found in all our experiences, events, and happenings. When we are committed-follower disciples of Jesus Christ, the Lord uses everything in our lives to further shape us into the image of Christ.
I am sure from this passage that it wasn’t the Apostles intent to look up the lame beggar at the temple and minister to him. They didn’t get up that morning and say, “I think I’ll find a lame man today and heal him.” The world would call their encounter fortuitous or chance or simply blind fate. But in the kingdom of God, we call it providence.
What would most persons reading this chapter of Acts answer as to what was the principal essence of the passage? I believe most would say it was all about the miraculous healing of the lame man. However, there just might be an even greater or more significant story here than even the wonderful healing of the lame beggar. As a matter of fact, I believe there is more than one miracle in this narrative. Let’s go back and review this wonderful story and see where it leads us.
The two disciples’ presence at the temple that day could have been prompted simply by their following Jesus’ example. They may have been merely making themselves available to the Lord with no particular plan in mind. When the lame man confronted them with his request for financial aid, they were instantly invited into God’s greater design and glory. Have you ever wondered if this tale would have gone differently if these disciples had just come from a big payday and were flush with coin? Given the training Jesus provided them, “Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals,” this would have been very unlikely. It is the way of the Lord with his disciples to pare them down that their reliance, dependence, faith and trust are entirely in him.
When the beggar requested monetary help, Peter responded with exactly what the Lord desires in and from the lives of all his followers—he answered from that place of personal indigence but out of the bounty of Almighty God. “…silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee…” Peter in essence was saying, “I know that within myself I have nothing to offer, I don’t even have adequate material resources to give, but I know him who is and has everything and I offer him to you.” It all comes down to, “Such as I have.” Peter had “such.” Simply put, such is what we have to offer others of the life of Christ based on our ever-developing relationship with him. Although I don’t like being formulaic, I think we can confidently assert this as a truism: less of me, more of Christ. The more I die to self, take up my cross and follow Jesus, the more of his life I am going to experience.
Whatever I share out of my life will only offer a temporary fix. What I share of the life of Christ will be like that living water Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman at the well; its satisfaction will never wane. This should be our goal in all matters and relationships; to bring all of Christ we possibly can into the situation. Our potential and ability to do this is entirely resident in our relationship and walk with Christ. Peter and the other disciples were completely sold out to Christ with nothing held back. They had surrendered all that they were and had to him and were willing to follow him all the way to the cross. The disciples had an irrevocable commitment to follow; their “such” therefore was whatever of Christ he chose to manifest.
There is another side of this coin which would offer the life of Christ to others; there is the attitude of the one in need. We see in the lame man a hope and an expectation as well as a willingness to ask for help. Although he didn’t set his bar so high so as to expect a miraculous healing, he did see in Peter someone who could provide substance for him. “So the man gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” I think about the attitude of the blind beggar outside of Jericho who cried out to Jesus when he heard he was passing close by. When they brought the beggar to him, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man’s instant and enthusiastic response was, “I want to see.” Upon giving him sight, Jesus informed him it was his faith that healed him. Faith can easily be likened to hopeful expectation. This man realized the one passing by was the Son of God. He must have heard the stories of miraculous healings by Jesus’ hand and he cried out in great expectation that the same thing could happen to him.
The expectation of the lame beggar and the blind beggar stand in stark contrast to those in Jesus’ home town of Nazareth where they were very unbelieving, unexpectant, and where Jesus could do no great miracles. For them, Jesus was just the carpenter’s son. They didn’t know about “such.” There has to be an openness, a wanting, a desire, a believing, a looking for in order for a release of the miraculous life of Christ into a situation. There has to be the kind of belief and expectation exhibited by the Roman centurion and the woman with the twelve-year issue of blood.
How the Lord purposes to rectify any given situation is entirely under his purview and sovereignty. Our part is in becoming vessels unto honor who become instruments of righteousness in his hands. We have to be careful not to disdain who we are in Christ in our willingness to believe how he can and will manifest the miraculous through us. To depreciate in any manner how the Lord might use us in ministry is to de facto disparage God and his ministry as the people of Nazareth ended up doing. You and I bring “such as we have” to whatever needs the Lord introduces us. Our part is to be a living sacrifice while the caliber of ministry that goes forth is the sovereign domain of God.
We notice in this narrative that the lame man had established a very specific expectation. The Word says that he was asking alms of those entering the temple. It is important that as we minister, we follow where God is leading and not allow those receiving the ministry to set the course out of their lesser expectations. The lame man would have been very happy had the disciples simply given him some money and gone on into the temple. However, what was to follow this encounter would never have taken place. This leads us to the rest of the story.
The first miracle, the healing of the lame man, set the stage for a subsequent miracle which may truly be the greater story here. When those in the temple realized what had just transpired, they were filled with wonder and amazement. Peter realized the opportunity which had presented itself. He assured them that the origin of the miracle was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that Jesus was glorified through it. Peter then proceeded to witness to the resurrection of Jesus. He used the Scriptures to show them how everything in the Old Covenant pointed to Christ, the Messiah, and that Jesus was that Messiah.
Through one man’s affliction, a multitude of people heard the gospel of the kingdom of God. This really all started with men who knew who they were in Christ, who understood and believed that whatever frailties and shortcomings they might possess, God was more than able to use them in supernatural ministry to the impoverished of the land. Without any significant formal training, the Lord used all that they surrendered to him.
I pray that those reading these words will realize how ready the Lord is to use all that you have and are in Christ to offer healing to the broken, the cast down, the halt and lame, and the tragically lost of this world. When we deny ourself, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, when we step on that irreversible path of becoming everything in Christ he died for us to be, someone is going to ask us for alms. When that happens, we, along with those spiritual pioneers who went before us, will be able to respond:
Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…