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January 29 – What Really Matters

Luke 21; Genesis 38; Psalm 29

How many times have you heard the old adage that “There’s no such thing as a stupid question?” Countless times. In the education field we repeat this constantly so our students will not be afraid to ask the questions they need to ask. In a moment of truth, recently, my pastor pointed out that if you really believe that, you haven’t heard enough questions. He then referenced an article he had read that began with the question “should pastors give to their church?” His response was “Well DUHHH!” Giving is often a touchy subject and my pastor put things into perspective when he told us that he gives to our church and he isn’t afraid to preach about giving because what our church does matters.

It’s interesting that my pastor, whenever he preaches on giving, gives gifts to the congregation. He’s given things like Kindles and Go-Pros. In that sermon, though, he upped the ante. He gave out gift cards for people to give to others in need. He does those kinds of things because he wants people to know that giving is fun. When you have enough, giving is fun. When you are struggling, you may wonder about your giving. “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ 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)

I’ve always wondered about this poor widow. How did she feel when she was about to give her money at the Temple? Was she ashamed at the small amount she was giving compared to all the others around her? Was she worried as she gave that she might not have enough food for the day? Did she know that Jesus was watching her and would use her as an example of a giving heart that would last as long as the Bible would last? We don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but what we do know is what she did: she gave when it hurt to give. Statistics show us that poor people tend to be more willing to give to help others than people who are financially wealthy. Maybe they are like that because they have been and probably still are in situations where they need help. They sympathize with others. Those who have financial wealth are more likely to have less compassion and wonder how someone got to be in need and blame them for that situation. The applause of Jesus for this woman was that she was willing to give even when it hurt to advance the kingdom of God.

My wife and I have been blessed in that we have been able to give to others. We haven’t given at the faith level of this woman. We are able to give to our church because, as our pastor said, what our church does matters. We have been able to give to other ministries that meet needs and spread the gospel. We have been able to give to organizations in the community that help meet the needs of others. We give voluntarily. We give with our prayers. We give in faith out of love for our Lord. I don’t say that to brag. I say that to inspire you. Let’s face it: if we wanted to focus on accumulating things, we could stop a lot of our giving. Last I checked, any thing I have won’t go with me to heaven. And this is how I want to inspire you: the next time you think about buying some thing that seems important to you ask yourself if this is really a need. If it is, buy it without a second thought. But, if this is something you could do without, ask yourself if there is something better you can do with that money to help others. There are a lot of things that you can buy, but the joy of stuff will soon fade. The joy of helping others lasts forever.

Oh Lord, how easy it is to accumulate stuff. So much of that stuff really doesn’t matter and just clutters my house. Help me to stop thinking about stuff and focus more on You and the people You love.

Daily Devotion by Bob James

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