Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rich in faith

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
Luke 21: 1-4
Funny how I tend to glance over what I initially perceive to be the more 'simple' verses in the Bible. Over time, I've learned that there are no simple verses, just simple ways of thinking; I am guilty of the latter. But, when I'm available, God opens my eyes and shows me things I never would've seen without his wisdom, and that's what happened with these first few verses in the 21st chapter of Luke.

So many of us can relate to that "poor woman," as Jesus put it. Whether we're struggling financially or emotionally, we know what loss feels like, and possibly even the self-pity that comes along with that loss. It can be quite engrossing; we get wrapped up in our struggles so much that we forget to give back...

Wait a minute! Give back? What's left to give when you're living a life like Job and you've lost it all? You say you've done everything right and you can't figure out why YOU should be the one giving back; shouldn't the ball be on God's side of the court? Not in this case, God's for us--he's not the opponent we're up against.

That 'poor woman' lost her husband and could only offer God a fraction of a penny, but it was more than enough for him. She gave. This isn't Jesus lecturing his disciples about the importance of tithing; it's not about giving money to the church--it's about faith, giving God the benefit of the doubt when you'd rather not. This woman did not let her heart become consumed with bitterness; she did not give 'reluctantly or under compulsion' (2 Cor. 9:7) but 'freely and wholeheartedly' (1 Chron. 29:9). To think, though she was poor, she was free; she was not a slave to her sadness. Her heart was whole because it belonged to God and he acknowledged her for that, we see it happen literally right there in Luke.

To some, it may seem like you're not giving much to God; your walk with him is a humble one. Others might even think you're a fool for believing in God because you're financially poor or struggling somehow--but God sees your heart, as he saw this woman's. So where is your hope? You can be certain that A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19).

Isaiah says it like this, Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction...(Isaiah 38:17) What if it feels like you're in the pit of destruction right now? (Though you probably aren't, as it seems God did spare Isaiah from the worst.) Maybe it's time to focus on the first part of the aforementioned verse; instead of looking for the obvious benefits, look at the ones you can gather from the hardships. It's easy to have faith when all is going well. This woman's faith was tried and true, probably even stronger than that of the wealthy men who gave more money. She'd lost her husband, she was struggling financially, and she probably was going to have it pretty rough for awhile. (Let's not forget that men were the breadwinners back then, and she'd lost hers!)

The ability to have faith when all else fails is one of the greatest benefits/blessings you will ever receive in this life--it means your faith is real. We can take comfort in these golden verses:

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way; in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distress...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:4 & 10
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Luke 6:20


Tiffany said...

Thanks for your thoughts on faith and giving--even when it feels like there isn't anything left to give. I like the verses you chose.

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