Acts 3:1-9 tells the story of Peter, John and a lame beggar.
The short version is this: the beggar asked Peter and John for money, but, being broke, they gave him something else: a miraculous healing.
I wonder what would have happened if the apostles had had money.
Would they have simply done what many of us do – throw money at the problem instead of investigating it? Hmm.
I am not recommending that we strive to be penniless, but I do believe we can learn a few things from this event.
1. The Beggar Had Limitations
If we could read his thoughts, I am guessing we would hear something like, “I have been a beggar all of my life and that is all I will ever be.” Because his destiny was wrapped up in his self worth, his narrow self esteem blocked other possibilities in his life.
Lesson to us:
What life commands subconsciously dictate your behavior? Do you sabotage your own job promotion possibilities because your parents told you that you would never amount to anything? Do you think of yourself as “stupid” because some school mates chided you or because your 5th grade teacher thought you were hopeless? Do you have trouble dreaming of a better tomorrow because your grandmother told you that life on this earth will always be full of problems? My point is this: you have untapped potential. In spite of what you may believe about yourself, reality is that you have within you the ability to soar past those self-imposed limitations.
2. Peter and John Looked Past Those Limitations
The beggar, who had been lame from birth, was carried to the temple gate every day so he could beg. Peter and John also went to the temple their times of prayer. They had undoubtedly seen him there many, many times. They had probably given him money from time to time, but on this particular day, the scripture tells us that “Peter looked straight at him, as did John.” (NIV)
In so doing, they suddenly had a supernatural insight into his life: this lame man needed something far more important then money – he needed the ability to walk. The obvious? He was a beggar. He needed money. The not-so-obvious? He wasn’t destined to beg for the rest of his life.
Lesson to us:
Do you see people only as they are today, or do you envision their potential? What impact could we make in others’ lives if we, like Peter and John, looked at them and saw beyond the superficial to the deeper issues of their gifts, their dreams and their untapped talents? How would the lives of our spouses, our children, our friends and our co-workers be different if we practiced this principle?
3. Peter and John Did Not Limit God
Until Jesus entered into Peter and John’s lives, they were mere fishermen born into fishermen families, undoubtedly resigned to the destiny life had given them. One wonders if their own transformations gave them the insight to see potential in others. These two had encountered a resurrected Christ; they had witnessed Jesus’ bodily ascension into the clouds and they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. Because they had learned not to limit a limitless God, they had no reservations about proclaiming these words to the beggar.
Lesson to us:
I wish I had the faith of Peter and John. I really do. But the lesson to me is to utilize what faith I do have. In 2011, my wife experienced a new level of faith . . . she decided that she would no longer limit God in her life (and, by extension, in my life). We had “Do Not Limit Our Limitless God” posters on walls all over our house. And guess what? God:
- Helped us find a great “vacation van” – with a bumper-to-bumper warranty – for the exact dollar amount we had budgeted.
- Helped my daughter-in-law, fresh out of college, secure a job 15 others were applying for.
- Provided a teaching job for my daughter that she didn’t apply for, the day she got turned down for a teaching job she had applied for.
As I stated earlier, this article is not a recommendation that we become penniless so that God can use us in more powerful ways. It is instead a challenge to look beyond what money can do . . . to “look intently” at others, to develop empathy for the one needing help, to consider gifts that go beyond a financial contribution and to become involved in people’s lives.
We will discover that such giving will cost more than a few dollars; we will be giving our time, our energy and our emotional support.
Expensive? Very much so, but is this not what Jesus gave for us?
In what ways do you limit yourself? Your friends and family? God? Leave a comment!