To Give or To Teach

Read Acts 3:1-10

There is a very old adage which has a much disputed origin. The adage is: “Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The concept of alleviating poverty by providing a means of self-sufficiency is found throughout history. Chinese philosophers, novelists, newspapers and charity workers have all been credited with some aspects of this adage. According to, Anne Isabella Thackery Ritchie deserves to be credited with the origin. Trying to be of service to someone in need is admirable. Choosing the best way to meet that need can be the biggest challenge. This adage causes us to evaluate the greatest action to choose with the opportunity to have longevity.

In the passage from Acts, we see Peter and John called upon to meet the needs of a man who was unable to walk so he sat at the temple gate begging every day. The man needed money in order to purchase necessities on which he could survive. Peter saw an opportunity to provide something which would be life changing, not merely life sustaining. Peter showed the man how to walk and stand.

We, like Peter, can provide a long-term change for people. The easy route when we are called upon to assist someone is to provide for the immediate need. This can be accomplished in the quickest amount of time and create the least amount of cost to us. However, we truly can make a meaningful difference if we invest our time in gaining an understanding of the source of the need. With this understanding, we then are able to provide whatever is necessary to reduce or eliminate the source of the immediate need. This will create a stronger possibility of the need not occurring again.

Let us follow Ritchie’s adage and Peter’s example.