Tuesday Morning Devotion (Doing What You Can)

41And he sat down by the treasury, and he was watching how the crowd threw money into the contribution box. And many rich people threw in lots! 42Then one poor widow came and threw in two small copper coins about the equivalent of a penny. 43And he called his disciples to him and he said to them, “Truly I tell you that this poor widow has thrown in more than all of those who have thrown money into the contribution box. 44For they all threw in from their abundance, but she gave everything she had from her lack, all of her living.” — Mark 12:41-44

10So David and 400 of his men pursued them, as 200 of the men were too weary to cross the stream of Besor. . . .

21When David returned to the 200 men who had been too weary to follow him whom he had left at the stream of Besor, they came out to meet him and the people who were with him. David approached them and asked them how they were doing. 22But some of the mean who had gone with David, evil scoundrels, said, “Since they didn’t go with us, nothing should be given to them from the spoils that we recovered. Each man should just get his wife and his children, and be sent away.” 23But David said, “You must not do that, my brethren! Considering what God has given us and how he has kept us safe, and given this raiding party that came against us into our hands, 24who could agree with what you have said? The portion of the person who went into battle will be exactly the same as the portion of the person who stayed with the equipment. They will get the same amount.” 25From that day forward this became a statute and judgment in Israel to this day. — 1 Samuel 30:10; 21-25

I couldn’t decide which scripture to use today, so I used two of them. There are a number more that could be used for this devotion.

Yesterday I wrote a rather pushy devotional. It was a get up and get moving message. Now there’s a problem writing such a devotional for a list of people, or preaching such a sermon for a group. Not everyone is in the same place and not everyone reacts in the same way. A preacher faces this issue every time he wants to talk about service or about giving. There will be some people in the congregation who practically live at the church, and are doing more than their fair share of the work. There are others who never volunteer for anything. There are those who give more than they can really afford financially, and there are others who resent every penny that goes into the church’s operating budget.

When a pastor preaches a sermon on stewardship or service, he takes the risk—or the near certainty—that someone is going to misunderstand him. Someone will be out of balance. Similarly in the workplace, supervisors sometimes call all the workers in their work area into a meeting and lecture them on some subject, perhaps punctuality, or staying off the Internet during work hours. In general, I suspect these meetings don’t accomplish many of their goals, because some people tend to think they’re doing OK until things are pointed out to them directly, while others take everything to heart, whether it’s applicable or not.

It’s simply human for us to look for a way to measure our giving or our service. The world’s measure would push us to look at it from the accomplishment point of view. Is the business I’m working for successful? If not, I need to work harder! But that may not be your place. It may not even be possible. Similarly when the church finance director gets up and says the church is behind on your budget, you may think, “Wow! I need to give more.” And you might. I can’t tell you that in a devotional. At the same time, you might not.

You see our human tendency is to discuss stewardship in terms of church budgets, and service in terms of church programs. But that isn’t God’s way. God wants you to give because it’s good for you to do so. He wants you to serve because it’s good for you to do so. How much? That’s based on your abilities, your gifts, and in the final analysis, on your call from God.

Don’t be distracted by what others think. If you go home from that stewardship sermon disturbed, spend time in prayer. What is it that God wants you to do? If your boss is demanding more hours from you at work, spend time again in prayer, evaluate your life and your time, and you and God figure out how much you should do.

Remember the poor widow. The people around her didn’t approve, but Jesus did. Cultivate that “Jesus eye view”–of yourself and of others.

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