1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
Open your Bibles to the book of Acts 3:1-6, and in particular verse 6 and a simple statement out of that verse made by Simon Peter.
I knew that the Texas economy was bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad until I heard about the Houston oilman who willed two oil wells to his son and got sued for child abuse. We wonder if in this kind of economy the preacher ought to be talking about stewardship, but I think maybe this is the best of all times to talk about it. For among other things, the economic crunch has a way of teaching us what is important and what is lasting in life. We have discovered that oil is not forever. That real estate is not forever. That a bull market on the stock exchange is not forever. We are bound to ask, “What is forever?” And when we find the answer to that, we need to invest more of our time and more of our resources and more of ourselves into that which shall last forever.
I was flying back from Toledo last week and thumbing through one of those magazines on an airplane, The American Way. It had an article in there about Dick Bass from Dallas. He was the only man to ever scale the highest peak on all seven continents. He was the oldest man, at the age of 55, to scale Mount Everest. And he gave a bit of his philosophy of life. He said that the great use of life is to spend it for something that outlives it.
And maybe all of the problems we are facing are reminding us that we need to invest more of ourselves and more of our time and more of our resources on that which shall outlive us. When you start looking for what it is, you will find it in the realm of the spiritual and in the kingdom of God.
Stewardship has never been a question of resources. It is always a matter of commitment. In fact it was in a time of great economic depression that God said to the children of Israel, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). At the time when they were economically depressed God gave them that word.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and he reminded them of the great stewardship of the churches of Galatia. He said, “I want you to remember that in the midst of their great poverty and their great want that they gave joyfully and they gave liberally to the work of God.” So stewardship is never a matter of how much you have, it is a matter of what you do with what you have. Ultimately it comes down to a matter of commitment to the Lord and to his purposes and to his will.
I think we can come to understand a little bit about stewardship in the text that is before us today. It occurred right after Pentecost and Peter and John were on their way to the Temple to pray. It was their custom to go there regularly to pray. And on their journey they encountered a beggar who asked them for money to live on. He lived on the handouts of people. And Peter stopped and looked at him and made this significant statement in verse 6: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.”
He could have stopped by saying, “Silver and gold have I none.” And a lot of people stop right there. And when they do that, they are focusing on what they do not have. And failing to take account of what they do have and what they can do. There are a lot of people like that who go around focusing on what they don’t have. If you talk to them about stewardship, they would say to you, very simply, “Silver and gold have I none.” They act as though they were cruise directors on the Titanic. They are expecting the whole thing to go down at any moment. They look at life from a negative point of view. They are like the young man who came home from school one day and he said to his dad, “Dad, I think I am going to fail arithmetic.” And his dad was a positive thinker and he said, “Son, don’t talk that way. You need to be more positive.” He said, “Okay, Dad, I know I’m going to fail arithmetic.”
Some people are positively negative. The thing that makes that so tragic is that most of the barriers in life are mental barriers. If we think we can’t do something, then we usually don’t try. Or if we do try, we put forth a half-hearted effort. And because we don’t really try or because we try half-heartedly, failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We think we can’t do it and therefore we don’t do it. And it all goes back to that negative thinking, that idea that I can’t do it, I don’t have it, so I don’t try.
I want to remind you that Shakespeare had no typewriter. That Einstein did not know the difference between a computer chip and a potato chip. I want to remind you that David decked Goliath without the help of Howard Cosell. And so it really doesn’t matter what you don’t have—what matters is what you do with what you do have. And these apostles were confronted with a need and they began by saying, “Silver and gold have I none.” It would have been tragic if they had stopped there. They didn’t. They went on to add the second part that is the heart and the key to Christian stewardship: “But such as I have give I thee.” That’s what Christian stewardship is all about. It is not what you don’t have but what you do have. And what you do with what you have. And if you can ever come to the place in your life where you say concerning your time, your talents, and your testimony, and your tithe and everything else that is a part of you is about what you do have, you can make a difference in this world.