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What I Have ... I Give

Life had not been easy for her, and developing crises drove her away from the Lord, His people, and His things. Years later at her mother's grave she sought and was granted the Lord's forgiveness and restoration. She never looked back afterwards. Her Christian life was blessed, and she lived past the century mark. She was a soul winner, but failing eyesight limited her testimony. One thing she maintained was her walk to a bench overlooking the ocean near to her home. Here she sat and waited until someone came along to sit alongside her. It was then she would pass the person a tract, or Bible portion and ask for it to be read to her. 'My eyesight is gone', she would explain apologetically. There was never a refusal, and a door to the gospel was opened. Eternity will reveal the results from this act of soul winning. This dear Christian virtually said, 'What I have ... I give'. Her example might well reopen all our hearts to missed opportunities - valid or invalid - which we allow to occur in our lives. We all have something to give. To withhold is to deny a blessing to ourselves and to others. Perhaps it is time to take an inventory; to examine the investment of our time, money, and willingness; not ignoring the importance of a visit, phone call, letter to those in need. Then we too, can fulfil the meaning of the words, 'What I have ... I give'.

It was Peter who first used the expression during his memorable encounter with the crippled man at the gate of the Temple called Beautiful. The mighty blessing of Pentecost was fresh with them as Peter and John one evening sought out those devoted Jews presenting themselves for the temple prayers. The two disciples were hindered by a crippled man's plaintive plea for money. 'Look on us', answered Peter. 'Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee'(1). Imagine the beggar's consternation when in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth he was raised up to walk, leap, and praise God. None could question the miracle; onlookers were filled with wonder and amazement.

That which I have! Peter had no money, but was not bereft of faith, love, and willingness to help. There was no hesitation in using these to the glory of God. A hand empty of money was filled with divine power. 'And he took him by the right hand and raised him up'. We may not raise up people physically, but we can spiritually through God's Word. Willingness to use what God has given us for His work is a lesson to be learned from Peter's miracle.

The poor widow who was noticed by the Lord when He sat over against the temple treasury, is a contrasting example(2). She did have money - two mites! and she came to the Temple to give it to her God. She cast in all that she had. The' Lord was her witness. She could truthfully say, 'What I have I give'; Perhaps this woman in her poverty reminded the Lord of His beloved earthly parents, who after His birth could only bring to God an offering of two turtledoves, for such was their poverty; not a lamb or an ox. As with the widow they could truthfully say, as they presented their humble gift, 'What I have ... I give'.

A gracious Christian was hospitalized in middle life. Doctors gave little hope that he would survive brain surgery. Within hours of returning to his recovery room this dear man was singing in a beautiful tenor voice:

'Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, 0 what a foretaste of glory divine'. All could hear: doctors, nurses, patients, visitors. They were to hear it again and again until he was taken home to be with his Lord. What a testimony! Here is a striking example of 'what I have ... I give', at the close of one's life.

Responding to her critics, the Lord said of the woman who anointed Him with the alabaster cruse of fragrant oil, 'She has done all she could'(3). She may have filled that cruse by adding to it according to her means, until it was filled and then sealed by the apothecary until the memorable day when it might have been said of her, 'What I have... I give'.

Included also in our list of noble givers must surely be the lad who brought his five loaves and two fishes; the widow who cared so sacrificially for Elijah; and Dorcas, described as a woman full of almsdeeds and good works. And what of you and me? Are not all these examples worthy of our Imitation? Doing good 'toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith', is incumbent upon us(4). Let us ask the Lord to show us what we have, and how we may give it in the spirit of Peter's willingness. It might be our encouraging words to friends, strangers, neighbours, fellow saints; or reaching out with loving care to the elderly in homes and hospitals; providing gifts of food, clothing, money to aid the blind, hungry, and handicapped; help in sending Bibles to countries where God's Word has been banned or restricted. What I have, that I give, indicates a spirit of willingness, and of prayer, that the Lord will show clearly how these words can have a practical application in our lives on a consistent basis. One has said, and the thought is commendable, 'I do not ask for faith to move mountains; but faith to move me'.

In conclusion, an illustration in a different vein. In the 17th century a devout young man of 20 years confessed dissatisfaction with the current church hymnal. He was challenged by his father to produce something better, and this set Isaac Watts on the road to being a composer of some of the choicest hymns sung by Christians. At least 25 of his vast repertoire are included in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. The first in that hymnbook comes from his pen and begins with 'Blest be the Wisdom and the Power'. Multitudes have been greatly blessed by 'As we survey the wondrous Cross', and equally by many others which have come from his pen. Isaac Watts' dedication would surely place him within the circle of Peter's words, 'What I have... I give'. He also brings into perspective the spirit of our giving with these words of deep, deep meaning:

Were the whole realm of nature ours,

That were an offering far too small;

Love that transcends our highest powers

Demands our heart, our life, our all.

(1) Acts 3:1-6;

(2) Mark 12:42;

(3) Mark 14:8 Moffatt;

(4) Galatians 6:10).