Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up … Acts 3:6-8
Usually, I focus on the first part of this verse, the silver and gold part. Peter and John didn’t have a lot of money but they had a real treasure – the power of the Name of Jesus. A power that heals and renews and repairs and restores. As Peter explained to the astonished crowd:
And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16 (ESV)
And as Paul encouraged the Corinthians, we have this treasure of the knowledge of God and what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)
Silver and gold most of us do not have, but we can have the most precious power in the universe. But this time as I read the passage above in Acts, I was drawn to look at the second part of the verse. The part where Peter reaches down and takes the man by the hand. And I saw that faith in the Name is the treasure, but love, or “works” as James put it, is its expression.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-18
This kind of love is, as my pastor Troy Gentz put it in a recent messagei, “a hard hat, lunch pail, pick axe” kind of love. It is a reaching down, taking by the hand, helping up kind of love. It is not philosophical. It is not just reading about faith and mentally, or even from the heart, assenting to what is written. It is not even just giving of our resources. It is giving ourselves.
As I was searching for a way to express the love God requires, I came on this list of synonyms: “hands on, personally involved, front line, in the trenches, in amongst it.”ii Yes, “in amongst it”! Just like Jesus is in amongst us – our Emmanuel (see Jesus in the Middle).
Love cannot stay just in our minds or even in our hearts. It can’t remain as words on a page, no matter how adored. It was made to be – it exists to be – expressed in works of love that reach out and grasp people by the hand and pull them up and out. As Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17).
In the same sermon Troy Gentz said, “The love of God is an ocean and it shouldn’t trickle down to a dirty little puddle that we share with people.”iii What keeps the treasure we have from gushing out all over the place in refreshing, life-giving, good works of love? Fear, prejudice, self-preservation, selfishness, apathy – all things that Jesus addressed in his time here on earth (ex.: Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:30-37; Luke 12:15-21).
“We should resemble God … look like God’s kids. It’s [love is] a family trait.”iv
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16
i Troy Gentz, Greatest Sermon series, Sunday June 6, 2021 https://youtu.be/D-6fr9HWDnw?t=1636
iii ibid, Troy Gentz
iv ibid, Troy Gentz
Image in the Public Domain from Wikimedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hard_Hats_Required.jpg