Acts 3:1-10 – Beggar Mentality, No More!
Ev. Kalvin Budiman
There is one beggar in Acts 3:1-10, but there are actually three poor men in this story. The first poor man is, of course, the beggar by the temple court. The other two poor men are the two disciples, Peter and John. Look at what Peter said to the beggar (3:6), “Silver or gold I do not have” (NIV). The New Living Translation translated verse 6, “I don’t have any money for you.” This statement alone does not necessarily tell us that the disciples were poor; they might have some money, but at that moment they just did not intend to give money to the beggar. But I think we can all agree that, generally speaking, Peter and John were not in the category of the rich. And perhaps it is not too far-fetched to say that Acts 3:1-10 tells a story about three poor men.
But Acts 3:1-10 is not just a story about three poor men. What is more interesting is that in this story we are shown two types of opposite mentalities, namely, a beggar mentality, on the one hand, and an abundance mentality on the other. We can understand why the beggar had a beggar mentality. He was obviously a poor man. The text says that he was crippled from birth, which probably explained why he could never have a job. And to emphasize his poverty, our text even says that he begged for money by the temple court every day.
Now, if Peter and John approached the beggar that day with a similar kind of mentality, they would probably have said to the poor man, “Look, sir, we’re all actually not so different; we’re also struggling to make ends meet just like you; look at us, do you see any silver and gold with us?” And then Peter and John would have walked away, forgetting that they did actually have something precious to share with the beggar. But thankfully, although the disciples were also poor, their hearts were not; they abounded in joy; they knew that they had with them something precious that they could always share with other people. That something to share was the power in the name of Jesus Christ.
I like reading what happened next to the crippled beggar after Peter healed him. Look closely at the expressive words that are used in verse 8, “He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them” (NLT). Now think about that for a moment. The beggar was crippled from birth, so no wonder he acted like a little child when he suddenly was able to stand up on his own, walk, and even jump for the first time in his entire life. He acted like a happy toddler who can walk for the first time and who also likes to jump up and down.
Was the beggar happy because he just received a large sum of money or silver or gold? Obviously not; he was still a poor man. He did not receive any money from Peter. His money bag was perhaps still empty; and yet he was jubilant! He was jubilant because he was given a miracle in the name of Jesus Christ. Had Peter simply given money to the crippled beggar, the following day the beggar would have come back to the Temple as he always did, begging for money again. But that day, he was a changed man. He was still poor; his pocket was still empty, and he was probably still hungry, but he perhaps forgot about any of those things because his heart was now full of joy!
Unfortunately, many of us today live with the kind of mentality like the crippled beggar before he was healed. We claim to believe in Christ, but we often live like a beggar. We live with the mentality of wanting more and more. Nothing seems to be able to satisfy our worldly desires. We often don’t live with an abundance mentality, even though we have Christ in us. Giving is a big challenge for many of us, while wanting more and more seems to be more normal and natural. When we don’t have a cellphone, we want a cellphone. After we have a cellphone, we want the newest cellphone. When we don’t have a car, we want a car. After we have a car, we want another, better, newer car. When we don’t have a house, we want a house. After we have a house, we want more and better houses; and so on and so forth. Many of our bottomless wants are also psychological: wanting to be praised, wanting to be accepted, wanting to be respected, wanting to be number one, and so on and so forth. No wonder that we rarely feel the joy and power of Christ in our hearts. Christ is perhaps there in our hearts; but he is buried and crushed under a mountain of insatiable worldly and selfish wants.
Wanting to have something is not wrong in itself, especially when we really need it. But if we want something to the point where we cannot be satisfied anymore, or if we get to the point in our life where we never have a sense of contentment anymore, then we have become slaves to our own desires. Christ didn’t come to make us rich. But He came to free us from, among other things, the beggar mentality.