Lamar was a talented young man with a servant’s heart. His love was the cello and though a teenager he thought he could bring some joy into several adult care facilities in his community. Lamar lined up several occasions when he went to the care facilities and gave one man concerts. His talents and his efforts were greatly appreciated by the residents and they heaped praise on him. It was difficult for Lamar to keep from getting a big head and thinking he was a little bit better than everyone else. Karen spent her Wednesday evenings serving food at a soup kitchen for the homeless. It wasn’t hard work. It just took some commitment to show up every Wednesday and help out. The men and women who ate at the soup kitchen thanked Karen and the others profusely for their efforts. Karen had to admit to herself that she loved receiving the thank you’s. Sometimes Karen wondered if she served at the soup kitchen because she could help others or if she came every Wednesday for the people’s gratitude.
Healers, magicians and charlatans were common in the first century. They usually exhibited their craft in order to get money from people. Seeing the lame man walking after he obeyed Peter’s command caused many to wonder if Peter and his companion John had special powers. Peter turned the attention of the people from himself to Jesus. It was Jesus he proclaimed, the man they crucified, who touched the lame man and enabled him to walk.
It is sometimes difficult to keep a balance between a healthy pride in the talents we have worked hard to develop and the acknowledgment that it is the Holy Spirit that uses those talents to bless others. Remembering that our talents are gifts from God helps us keep the balance. Giving God the praise for both our talents and the way the Spirit uses them keeps the focus off ourselves and on the Lord. Receiving compliments with a simple “Thank you,” acknowledges the blessings people have received.
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished.
When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.’ And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”