Sometimes giving spontaneously is the thing that is most helpful to the recipient and most fulfilling to the giver. No one plans for it to happen, but a kind word gives hope, an extra gratuity shows gratitude, a listening ear says, “I care,” a prayer for healing facilitates faith, or sharing the gospel saves a soul. This is what happened in Acts 3.
We may have a very intentional daily routine to get things done, but if we schedule out the chance for the Holy Spirit to engage us in spontaneous giving, we miss the Lord’s best. Ah, yes, spontaneity is the spice of life, but spontaneity also gives life. Spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, and financial life are all candidates for rejuvenation when generosity calls. Spontaneous giving is Spirit-led giving that ultimately leads to Jesus Christ.
Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting at “church” (the temple). At the entrance to the temple – the Beautiful Gate – like any skid row in a major city, they encountered a band of beggars seeking alms … money. In a Spirit-led moment, Peter and John locked eyes with a fellow human being. “And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us’” (Acts 3:4).
No doubt he had a desperate look of despair – dressed in tattered clothes, lying lame, dirty, and destitute. All the smells and emotions didn’t deter the compassion of the Christ followers. Peter and John didn’t let a religious obligation get in the way of the most sacred service of sharing the love of God. They gave the best gift – salvation in Jesus Christ.
“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’” (Acts 3:6).
Whatever our routines are, let’s be sure they allow for spontaneous Spirit-led giving. If our rush to get to our next appointment is a deterrent to taking time for another’s unfortunate situation, we may be missing an opportunity from God. The thing that most restrains our compassionate actions could be religious commitments. Prayer times and worship without accompanying actions of love for the lost and needy miss the heart of Jesus Christ, who was always on the lookout to heal, forgive, and give. The One who came to serve and not be served modeled the way for us to help others his way.
What if we considered planning our giving to serve the poor? Could we, for example, involve our families in regularly volunteering at a faith-based nonprofit in our communities? Many provide food and clothing for those who are in a season of financial challenge or have a pattern of poverty and pain inherited from their past. We might choose to plan this volunteering while still being prepared for opportunities that arise through our service.
In addition to helping the needy with felt needs, let’s make sure, like Peter and John, that – through our kind actions and words – we’re offering lost souls an opportunity to embrace faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s take the time to look an individual in the eyes, see beyond her urgent physical calamity, and perceive her heart’s desire for God’s love and forgiveness – the greatest gift we can give. Let’s hold out our hands and lift up a fellow human with our love, and pray she will grab hold of us, and Jesus, too.
“And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:7-8).
God, slow us down to see the needs around us, and give us courage and compassion to act with Christ’s love.