As we walk through our days, it’s incredibly renewing to know that God asks us only to give what we have…not always what people feel is “needed.”
I’ve been captivated recently by Peter and John in Acts 3, when they encounter the man who has been lame from birth at the gate called Beautiful. He was asking for money, which they didn’t have. But what they did have was far greater. They knew who Jesus was and who He would be for this man. Instead of fulfilling the beggar’s understandable, but lesser request, they took the man’s hand and connected his life with Jesus, the healer. “Such as we have, we give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.”
Our responses to others can never be based on need alone
—because the need in this world is endless.
Reacting only on the basis of “I need you” or “I need this from you” will leave us exhausted from well meaning efforts to be everything to everyone. That’s a job that only God is capable of. Yet, the enemy of our faith would love to convince us otherwise. If he hasn’t been able to cultivate you into a couch potato, then the moment you decide to engage in life, he will be sure that every “good” project and pressing need rushes in like a tsunami. The strategy is to overwhelm you to the point that you will return to the couch, feeling that you gave it a try, but that it was all just too much.
What people often refer to as burnout is not an inevitable outcome of giving to others, but it can be a result of not understanding how life with God was created to flow. We have permission to live as Jesus did, only needing to do what the Father is doing—nothing more and nothing less (John 14:10). We have the freedom to say “yes” to only what the Father is doing and the freedom to say “no” to everything else.
“As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17) includes the fact that Jesus did not meet everyone’s perceived needs. Even when His best friends were begging for Him to come and heal Lazarus; even when they absolutely believed that He could—He didn’t. He waited…because that’s what His Father had said to do. Can you imagine what it was like for Mary and Martha to watch their beloved brother take his last breath and wonder, “Where is Jesus when we need Him most?”
As Graham has wonderfully pointed out, Jesus understood that the Father didn’t want His Son to heal Lazarus, but to raise him from the dead; “and funnily enough, He’s not too late for that!” When we’ve lived and walked and talked with Jesus, we’ll know who He will be for us and for everyone we encounter. The expectations and needs of others will cease to be the taskmasters that drive us. Instead, we live led by the Spirit, to walk behind the One whose first instructions to His disciples were “Follow Me.” It wasn’t a one time directive for fisherman who were making a career change. It’s how we are meant to live life in Christ.
Never feel less if what you have isn’t what folks are requesting of you.
“Such as you have” may be better than they (or even you) could imagine.
When we see an opportunity to help, or love, or comfort, of course we want to always be open hearted, ready to give freely. But before responding based only on the need you see before you, or the request that’s being made of you; take a moment to pause and ask the Holy Spirit, “Who do YOU want to be to this person, at this moment in time and what do YOU want to provide for them?” God may have something far more expansive than you could have previously imagined; a deposit in your life to give that even you may not have even discovered yet!
Then, such as you have, give it all. It’s a Beautiful Gate that leads to a restful, joyful and empowered life with Him; where every opportunity before us becomes a place of continual renewal; where we live in expectation of Who God will be for us, and for each person we meet in a life of divine encounters.