by Eric Dunbar
I recently attended a Church Men’s Day celebration. The sermon delivered by Reverend Floyd Grayson titled, “Can You Help a Brother Out” was the highlight of the service at Kenner Calvary Baptist Church. The text in the sermon was taken from Acts chapter 3, in which a lame beggar was healed in front of the temple as he begged for alms.
“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, 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 from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:1-10).
One thing that stands out about this story is the people who daily carried the lame man. They knew exactly where to take him to get help. They brought him to the church. The Bible does not say whether those who carried the lame man were friends or family, but one thing is certain: They believed that if they were going to help a brother out, the one place they would find help would be the church. If this lame man were living in our day he might be heard asking passersby, can you help a brother out?
There are two things that stand out in this story. The first is that this man depended on alms for his very survival. The Greek word used for alms in the text is eleemosune (pronounced: el-eh-ay-mos-oo’-nay). It means compassion, i.e. (as exercised towards the poor). Since this lame man was unable to work to earn anything for himself, he was totally dependent upon the compassion of others for his very survival.
The second is that the people who carried the lame man knew exactly where to take him to get help. They brought him to the synagogue. The Bible does not say whether those who carried him were friends or family, but one thing is certain: They believed that if they were going to help a brother out, the one place they would find help would be the church.
We Are the Church
Contrary to popular belief, the church is not that lavish building where we go on Sunday morning to worship God. The church is a living spiritual organism, comprised of individual believers of Christ. Together, these believers make up the body of Christ.
Christ is the foundation on which this living spiritual body is built. We, believers in Christ, are the church. Christ is the first stone to be laid in the spiritual building of the church. Together, each of us, being laid on the foundation of Christ, we make up the spiritual house — the church.
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
If this lame man were living in our day he would be lying at the entrance of a church building with a beggar’s cup lying beside him. As believers exit the building this man would ask, can you help a brother out? What would you do in response to his begging?
How God Expects You To Respond
I will be honest, whenever a beggar approaches me, I have the predisposition to judge their motives, and based on my judgment, I then determine whether or not I will give to their cause. I’m sure I’m not the only one to do this. But after hearing Reverend Grayson’s sermon, I’m not so sure that this is how I am supposed to respond to someone who asks can you help a brother out? So I began to wonder, when it comes to helping a brother out, just what does God expect of us.
When Peter and John saw the lame man begging alms, they knew straightway what Jesus would have them do for him. They remembered when they were in the desert and didn’t have food to feed the hungry multitude that had come out to see Jesus, how Jesus told them to give the people something to eat when they wanted to send them away. So without hesitation they sprang into action, commanding the man to give them his undivided attention. Immediately the lame man gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. When Peter got the man’s attention he said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
Be Sensitive to the Holy Spirit
You should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. If someone asks you for a dollar, and you have it to give, allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide. Try not to judge that individual or assume that they are begging for money to buy drugs or alcohol. It could be that God has sent them to you, so be sensitive to the Hoy Spirit of God which will lead you and guide you into all truth.
Whenever someone asks you for money, you have their attention. Why? Because they are expecting that you will give them something. While you have their attention, why not give them the one thing that you have an abundance of — Jesus. So the next time someone says to you, “Can you help a brother out,” seize the opportunity to minister Jesus to them. Whatever their need is, trust in faith that the Lord will fill that need by way of His living stone — you.