Jesus sat near the Temple money box and watched the people put in their money. Many rich people gave large sums of money. Then a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which were only worth a few cents.
Calling his followers to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow gave more than all those rich people. They gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had; she gave all she had to live on.” Â Â Mark 12:41-44 (NCV)
Lectionary texts: Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17, Psalm 42, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44
This isn’t a devotion about tithing our money to our local church. Frankly I think Jesus’ attitude toward money was pretty straight forward. Money is inherently evil. It brings out deceit and manipulation possibly more than any single item in our culture. Jesus stated that I cannot allow money to become my Master (Matthew 8:24). When I allow the accumulation of it, the dispensing of it, and the use of it to become priority in my life above serving God and His children, then it has become my Master.
Jesus brings this story of the poor widow to me today to teach me about what it means to give all I have. I think it is no coincidence that it comes in the lectionary texts that span the week from our national election to Veteran’s Day.
Give my love. There have been several times during the last six months that I have wanted to â€œun-friendâ€ people from my Facebook list. Their re-posting of half-truths and snide remarks about both presidential candidates has shocked me. And I don’t easily shock! And then I remember the apostle John reminding me that anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness (1 John 2:9), so how can I reject my brother or sister because we disagree? I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit isn’t done convicting me yet! My prayer is that we disciples of Jesus Christ will remember to Whom we pledge our ultimate allegiance and that it is He who is on the throne of the Kingdom that will have no end â€“ long after the kings and presidents of this world are gone.
Give my time. Now Jesus is stepping on my righteous toes as He brings His message to give all I have to an area that is more difficult to give up control. Much of my selfishness about my time is twisted up in not â€œwastingâ€ time and so miss opportunities to further my own schedule toward my definition of success. Or maybe it is as simple as my time is something that I do have some control to say â€œyesâ€ or â€œnoâ€. And so as I talk to Jesus about giving all, I ask myself: Am I willing to give all my time in all the days of my life? Am I willing to be obedient to whatever Jesus asks of me even if no one else knows how I spend my time?
Give my life. The veterans that I recognize on this day each year are examples of what it means to give all in service. When a man or woman signs up to serve in the military, their life is no longer their own. Their time is no longer in their control. They have made the decision to serve their country before their own desires, even before their own family. And if asked to give their life, their answer is â€œyesâ€. To think that my decision when I signed up to serve in God’s Army would require anything less means I missed the fine print. My Commander-in-Chief, Jesus Christ, by His very example shows me that to be His disciple means I have given my life and it is not mine to control. I serve my LORD, obeying His desires before my own, even before my own family. And I am asked to give my life. It means that the span of my earthly life is for God to determine and how I transition to the eternal life that He has promised is in His plan for me.
I will be reading these passages more than once this week. Ruth trusted God as she lived in a land not her own with people who did not welcome her, despite her kindness toward her mother-in-law. Hebrews 9 continues the book’s theme that Jesus gave His all and so did it all, once and for all. Psalm 42:11 says,
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again â€” my Savior and my God!
And this is where I am today. I give my all because my hope is in my Savior and LORD.
Take My Life & Let It Be written by Frances R Havergal (1874), sung by Chris Tomlin