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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 7 - Acts 3:6 - Apostolical Generosity Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


Here is a lame Jewish beggar lying at the beautiful gate of the temple; and here is a Galilean fisherman, quite as poor as the beggar, walking into the temple court. The beggar asks alms, and the fisherman stops a moment. He cannot refuse to give, but what has he? No silver or gold, nor anything that the man was begging for. But he bethinks himself. He is not, after all, so poor. He has something that the beggar knows not of,—a divine power,—but lately lodged in him by the coming down of the Holy Ghost. This divine power, and divine fullness he may use; and now for the first time the fisherman puts forth his God-given strength,—his divine fullness. He says, Look on me. The beggar looks, expecting gold. The fisherman takes him by the hand, and speaks the word,—power flows out, healing flows in,—the man is cured. Ah, here is the display of a most wondrous possession, in comparison of which silver and gold are nothing! Here is a man with whom God has put himself in connection; here is a man who has a whole magazine of heavenly blessing at his disposal, whose resources are beyond all human measure, though wholly unlike all that man values or cares for. The man I speak of is simply a believing man. Not a man of learning, or genius, or position, or culture, but simply a believing man. Such was the fisherman of Capernaum. It is the believing man that wields the scepter, that has access to the stores of the kingdom. Not many rich, not many wise, not many noble, are called.

I. A believing man is a man of large possessions. Silver and gold he may have none; but not the less on that account are his possessions great. "Having nothing, and yet possessing all things," is the apostle's description of him. "All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come." All the past is his, all the present, and all the future. For He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, with Him freely gives us all things. We are made "partakers of Christ"; and God says to us, "All that I have is thine." But what we especially refer to here, is the gift of the Holy Ghost, the fullness of Christ, the power of blessing, the capacity for containing all Christ's boundless stores, "the grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." There is no end, no measure of his possessions, for they are summed up in the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The miraculous gifts of the early age are specimens of what he possesses,—sparkles of the golden mine, drops of the inexhaustible fountain. He is rich beyond measure in all things whereby he can benefit his fellows. Like the sun in the sky, he is rich in radiance, which no eclipse, no cloud, can affect.

II. A believing man is a man of large liberalities. He cannot keep anything he has got to himself. He is constrained to communicate, to pour out, like the fountain, like the fragrance of the flower. He opens his hand and gives; he is ever giving, giving, knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He may be poor in the things of earth, but he is rich in the things of heaven. "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give," is his feeling as he passes through this empty, beggared world. His joy is in pouring out, not in hoarding up. But, indeed, the heavenly gifts which constitute his possessions cannot be hoarded. They must be used, or they will vanish away. Nothing more grieves the Spirit than the selfish keeping of His gifts, whether of blessing, or joy, or peace. If we are full of the Spirit, and sit down to enjoy that fullness alone, we shall be deprived of it. The Spirit will depart. We must be liberal, generous, ever opening hand and heart, saying to all we meet with, "What I have I give." Freely we receive, let us freely give.

III. A believing man is a man large sympathies. He pities the world in the midst of whose miseries and sins he lives, and would fain contribute to its relief. His faith has not hardened his heart, but has made him more sensitive, more tenderhearted, more sympathizing. His compassions are stirred every hour, and by every object,—compassions for the pains of the body, compassions for the sadness and the peril of the soul. His eye affects his heart, and he longs more and more to be the fountain of blessing, and comfort, and health. "Such as I have I give" is always the spirit in which he acts.

IV. A believing man is a man of large powers. He has power from God, and power with God. He is strong in weakness, and resistless in dependence. He is partaker of the power of Him with whom he is one; of Him who said, "All power is given me." His faith puts him in possession of a power for blessing which no one else knows; an invisible, secret power, but a power which, "according to his faith," he can wield wherever he goes. Mere "miraculous power," as it is called, he may not have, but he has something better and higher.

V. A believing man has large opportunities. He both has and he makes opportunities every hour; for his eye and ear are ever open as he passes through this poor, diseased, sorrowful, empty world. Others see not these, find not these opportunities; he is always seeing and finding them, on the right hand and on the left, in his going out and coming in, at home, in the street, on the highway, in the railway carriage, in conversation, in company. Innumerable opportunities surround him.

VI. A believing man has large returns for his gifts. "Give and it shall be given; good measure, pressed down, and running over." Some of this now, most hereafter; an hundredfold for all he gives; the everlasting riches, glory, an inheritance, a kingdom. He gives in remembrance of the love that has given him so much; in sympathy with the wants of men around; in imitation of the example of Him who gave his Son, and of Him who gave Himself, and in prospect of the recompense of the reward when the Lord Himself shall return in glory, His reward with Him, and His work before Him.

Let us be generous, large-souled, noble-hearted, with hand and heart ever open, for the church needs this, and the world needs it more.