Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Acts 3:6
Those of us who have gone to certain National Parks are used to seeing signs which say, "PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BEARS." It seems that bears who are used to handouts no longer want to forage and feed themselves. The end result is a bear that can become aggressive when he doesn't get what he wants.
Now, in your mind, leave the open places of nature and go to Ocean Beach, California. There, if you look carefully, you will see stores with the sign: "PLEASE DON'T FEED OUR BUMS."
Those signs are aimed at a "new kind" of bum. By that I mean we're not talking about the dignified hobo of the Depression who was willing to work when he could find a job. No, these bums are employable, but choose not to work. Many come from well-to-do families and carry cell phones but they prefer to panhandle.
That is, of course, their right. But there have been reports that some of these bums have grown violent against those folks who don't come up with some cash.
Now I can truly understand the desire of these people to have someone else take care of them. I even understand their aversion to the rat race and a job which isn't fulfilling. Even so, I can't justify their Robin Hood attitude which steals from the rich and gives to the poor . . . meaning themselves.
So, what to do? Peter and John had the right idea when they visited the man who was begging on the steps of the temple. True, because of his infirmity, the man was a legitimate beggar rather than an I-choose-not-to-work bum. He was different, but he was looking for financial assistance.
Confessing both poverty and wealth, Peter answered the man's pleas with the words, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you."
Now that I think about it, those are the Church's words to every sinner. We aren't able to throw money at a problem, pain, or predicament. On the other hand, we are able to freely share the Savior. The Christ who was born, lived, suffered, died, and rose for our salvation is the ultimate solution to the needs, the sins, and the problems of humankind.
"That which I have, I give to you." Reflecting the love of the Lord to a lost world. That is our job, our pleasure, and our trust. God grant we share the Savior's blood-bought salvation with those who need a handout and hand up.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I don't know what today will bring. What kind of people will be placed in my path? What will be their needs? Grant me the wisdom, courage, and ability to share the Savior with them. Let them hear from me that I personally may not have the answers to their needs, but Jesus does. This prayer I pray in the Name of the crucified and risen Redeemer. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries