Written by: Tim Wood
There’s a great story in Acts 3 about Peter and John helping a crippled man. This crippled man was brought to the Temple every day to beg for money. He saw Peter and John approaching the Temple at the time of prayer and this is what happened: When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. (Acts 3:3-8).
First, if we’re really going to help people we have to be prepared. Prayer is standard operating procedure to being prepared. Praying for God to use us. Praying for God to give us eyes to see people in need. Praying that we would have courage to extend our hands to help them.
Second, it’s important to know what you don’t have. Peter said, “We don’t have money but what we have we’re willing to give you.” If we’re going to help others we must be comfortable in our own skin and in our own calling from God. I like what Romans 12: 6-9 says in The Message. Paul writes, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.”
Third, learn to recognize the difference between what people want and what they really need. Sometimes people need to be strengthened. Other times people need to be stretched. Sometimes people need comfort and other times they need to be confronted or corrected. This crippled person didn’t need a hand out he needed a hand up. That’s exactly what Peter and John gave to him. In order to help people we must love them and recognize what they need. We have to know what we can offer them and ultimately connect them to Jesus the One who offers eternal help.