In Acts 3:6 (ESV) 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!”
It is said that Vanderbilt, the mighty multi-millionaire, asked a faithful servant to come to his bedside and sing the old Gospel hymn, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.”
Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of mercy love and pow’r!
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth,
Is to feel your need of Him!
At the conclusion of the hymn, Vanderbilt, forgetting his millions, said, “I’m a poor and needy sinner!” (1)
We are all poor and needy sinners. Sometimes we just forget the extent of our own poverty, which paradoxically causes us to forget the extent of our wealth. Ironic isn’t it? The riches of this world distract us from our eternal riches in heaven. We become so preoccupied with what we don’t have, we fail to see the one thing we do have.
Modern culture revolves around the accumulating of stuff. We base the success of an individual by what they are able to buy. The more years of education, the more diversified investment portfolio, the more money in the bank, has become the litmus test of our success.
Although there is nothing wrong with having stuff. We shouldn’t let what we don’t have define us, but rather what we do have. If we would allow the gospel to penetrate our hearts. If we would see how the Son of God, who had everything, gave up everything in order that we might gain everything in Him. We would realize that we are all poor and needy sinners. We would see less is really more.
Acts 3:2 (ESV) And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.
This man was constantly reminded of what he didn’t have. Everyday he saw people go into the temple on legs that worked, which he did not have. He saw them walk into a temple, a temple he did not have. He heard money jingling in pockets, money which he did not have. So, when he saw Peter and John heading in the temple, being very away of what he did not have, begged them for what he perceived he needed. I’m sure he was surprised by their response.
“I have no silver and gold”…Ok I get it, you don’t want to give me anything. Why don’t you just be honest. But Peter and John were being honest. The only money they had was the church’s money. They had given everything to Jesus. But what they gave up for their faith, was nothing compared to what they gained because of that faith. “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!”
What happened next is truly remarkable. According to Acts 3:8–9 (ESV) And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
Was he still in old, tattered clothes? Yes. Was he still poor and needy? Yes. So what changed? His perspective moved from what he didn’t have to what he did. Sure he was celebrating the fact that he could now walk, but it was more than that. How do I know? Because he went straight into the temple. He wanted to praise God. He wanted to celebrate the one thing he did have in Christ. The gospel penetrated his heart.
In this fallen world we seem too preoccupied with what we don’t have, or with what we’re going get, rather than appreciating what we already have. But when we see that we are all poor and needy sinners, we are able to say what Peter said, I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…
We may not have what this world says we need in order to be successful. However, what we do have in Jesus Christ makes us incredibly rich. This is the liberation found in experiencing the Gospel. It reduces kings to paupers and elevates paupers to kings. And when we see it, when we experience it. There will be rejoicing and praising to God in the church. Regardless of what we don’t have, we are finally able to see what we do, and this will stir up in us an inner joy that nothing can take away. It is the paradox of finding wealth in poverty…it is the result of coming to know Jesus Christ, friend of sinners.
1. Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Richie Halversen