“A man lame from birth was… laid daily at the gate of the temple… Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. Peter directed his gaze 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 and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement…
“While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran to them in the portico… Peter addressed the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of… our fathers glorified his servant Jesus… And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know.'”
“They were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead… Many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number… came to about five thousand…
“‘Let it be known… that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well… There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’
“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus… ‘We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.'” Acts 3:2-13,16; 4:2-4,10,12-13,20
The lame beggar’s gaze was one of resigned hopelessness and hungry temporal survival, while Peter and John both perceived and looked upon him with hope and life beyond the here and now. Helplessness was borne of limited physical and spiritual resources, where hope held fast all that is true and unchanging. The disciples would not give what he thought he wanted; they wanted to give him so much more.
We hear pleas and respond with assertions or donations on impulse and emotion, without really thinking, or knowing what is needed. Getting caught up in and distracted by tangibles can keep us from assessing and utilizing the intangibles we own in Christ. As Christians, we have great and varied opportunity to make a significant, eternal difference by giving what others cannot: the gospel of life and grace that heals and re-creates. (1 Corinthians 3:21,23)
Do I hesitate to be generous because of what I don’t have- time, resources, inclination- rather than draw on the bounty God has entrusted to me in Christ? What needs do I ascertain that will shift me from hoarding to spreading God’s light and truth?