Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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21 Sacrificial Serving

Luke 21:1-6

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.[a] 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” 5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”

In Luke 21 Jesus paints a contrasting picture between wealth and poverty, between those who were well off and those who had been cast off, between what was given and what was held onto, between a sacrificial heart and a stingy one.  As people we crave comfort, we are devoted to pleasure and the absence of pain and if we are honest we greatly dislike sacrificing. Asking most people to willingly sacrifice is like asking a cat to take a bath, we hiss, our hair goes up and our claws come out. Yet in spite of how we might feel about it, sacrifice is a part of the Christian walk. But for many sacrifice is the stumbling block that causes them to hold back and for some even to turn back, choosing instead not to follow the Lord because of the sacrifice involved! This story reminds us that:

  • Jesus Saw – Vs 1 “As He looked up, Jesus saw”

This moment in the life of Jesus is captured in full HD, here He is in the Temple, surrounded with its jeweled beauty, and where is Jesus’ focus?  What does He see while His disciples are distracted by the beautiful building? Jesus sees the people, He noticed the poverty, and they saw only the riches. He was focused on the eternal, the souls of people, they only saw the temporary soon to be torn town and gone. What do you see when you look up? It’s not about the adornment of the building but the hearts of people. Are you willing to focus and really see like Jesus? It’s so easy to get caught up in the temporary and miss what is really important. I love this picture of a poor widowed woman alone with no one to care about her, surrounded by the splendor of the beautiful Temple, ignored by others including the disciples yet seen by Jesus. Does the thought that Jesus sees what you do create excitement or fear within you?

Some may ask “what does seeing have to do with sacrifice?” The Temple was a place where people came to worship God; worship is about connecting with the heart of the Father, about putting our focus on the Father. Worship is about connecting, really seeing, not ritualistically going through the motions; it’s not about doing but about being. Being in His presence, about I get to, not I have to.  Connecting with the heart of the Father should change us because as we look up we see His heart and what really matters. In your moments of worship when you look up what do you see? Does worship refocus you from self to service, from stubbornness to sacrifice?

But this moment is not just about the place, the temple, it’s also about the timing. This was the final week in Jesus life before He would sacrificially give His life, when He would give everything He had. What was He doing with His time? He could have taken this time to do other things but instead He took the time to worship and watch. The knowledge that Jesus sees absolutely every area of my life is not a fearful thing it’s a beautiful thing. Many of us want to play a game of Hide and Seek with Jesus but life is not a game and Jesus sees every part of our lives, including the intentions of our heart. Even with the sacrifice of the cross looming on the horizon He noticed a widows heart.

  • Saw Her Life – Vs 2 “He also saw a poor widow”

This lady was extremely poor, there are two words in the Greek language used to describe a poor person.  Peno, which means to have to toil for daily substance, what we would call living day to day. The other is Ptochos a beggar, one who is in deep poverty, what we would call destitute. Both of these words are used to describe this woman, she was at the bottom of the barrel. Not only was she financial poor and her situation dire but so was her family situation, she was a widow. Her husband was dead there was no Social Security, Medicare, or welfare. Yet she gave and she gave sacrificially. If there is anyone who had an excuse not to serve it was this woman. We want to base our sacrificial service on our circumstances but giving to Jesus is not based on our situation. As I look at this woman’s life and I think back on the list of excuses that I have offered to God through the years I realize I could have offered Him so much more that my excuses. More than I can’t, I’m tired, hungry, hurt, broke, I’m not smart enough, not good enough, to old, to young, to busy, buried by bills, and working, I’m not ready, not good at, I’m scared. What excuse do you offer? In spite of her many great excuses that she could have offered, she gave everything, both copper coins, sacrifice always costs. She gave all she had to live on not just 10%, not just the thing she didn’t want, or her left overs, she gave it all, she held nothing back. How do we measure giving? Is it by how much we give, or by how much we hold onto? How does God measure giving?

  • Saw Her Heart – Vs 3 “this poor widow has put in more than all the others”

Two copper coins were not much a fraction of a penny, in Roman terms they were worth only 1/64 of a Roman denarius which was a day’s wage for a laborer. Earlier in Luke Jesus summed up the amount she gave when He said:

Luke 12:6  “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. What can we buy for a penny today? Nothing, nada, zip. I’m not a financial expert but wouldn’t it have made more sense for her to give one and to keep one for herself. Jesus wouldn’t have been mad, I can’t see Him jumped up screaming “hey poor widow you still have 1/16 of a penny left, you’re SELFISH”

The paradox is that she gave everything and her everything was nothing when we measure it according to our standards. But this story is not about the money, it’s about giving as an act of worship, an act of the heart, an act of love. What did she give? She gave herself, holding nothing back. In her case it doesn’t even makes sense what she was doing. To those around you serving Jesus through sacrifice will not make sense. But when it comes to Jesus, what is worth holding back? She gave and it hurt, she gave till faith was involved. Are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to give, money, time, success, position? Many of us care more about our comfort than our call. You can always measure how much someone cares about something, by how much they sacrifice. That is how I know how much God cares about me, He sacrificed his only Son, He held nothing back. Is there something you need to let go of and give to God today? What are your two copper coins that may not be much to others but are everything to you?