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. Luke 21:1-2
Introducing the Devotion book God Calling, A.J. Russell wrote:
There is a legend that the praise for building the Cathedral of St. Sofia was not given to the Emperor Constantine but to Euphrasia, a poor widow who drew from her mattress “a wisp of straw and gave it to the oxen” that drew the marble from the ships. That was all, she did nothing more. 1
With those words, he reminds us of the phrase from Zechariah 4:10, “Who despises the day of small things?”
Well, plenty of us do.
I have often heard Christians console someone when a great setback has occurred by saying, “Ah, it’s because God has a greater plan for you.”
Or, if someone is discouraged about their present work or ministry, they will say, “I KNOW God has a bigger plan for me. I keep praying for Him to send it.”
These may seem to be harmless messages of encouragement, but is that the witness of scripture that something bigger and better is always waiting down the road for the faithful? Our Savior came to us as a poor man, not as a king. He was terribly unimpressed with the Temple and all its glitz, but deeply concerned with people, often one at a time. Why do we think our road should be paved while His was rutted, or that this necessarily brings Life?
For us to think we must achieve something big in the eyes of the world in order to matter is to deny the beautiful truth of Luke 21:1-2. In a magnificent Temple complex, filled with milling worshipers, some rich, Jesus saw a widow.
The word for “saw” often means a deeper kind of seeing – knowing, perceiving, grasping. Jesus saw this inconsequential woman, and not only His attention, but His praise adorned her – not others.
This is such an important concept. Too many of us get caught up in future and grand thinking. “The Lord is going to give me a great ministry down the road. Then I will matter to Him and to others.” We may not think it just that way, but is that why our hearts can reject our daily service as only a prelude to the “real thing?”
The danger in being caught up in “some day I will do a great thing for God” is that we may miss the frequent and daily opportunities to serve Him which, by the way, may make an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom.
The Lord impressed this thought upon my heart recently through a painful, 25 year old memory. Years ago, we rescued a puppy from the woods and he became a beloved, but persistently playful pet. Always, he was “on the move.” I was aspiring to grow in my musical ability, practicing piano constantly, dreaming of being so much more than the “ordinary” piano teacher I thought I was. There was no harm in striving for excellence. It’s just that one day, for the umpteenth time, our young dog banged my leg with his rubber chicken, inviting me to play while I was trying to memorize a difficult piece. Annoyed, I put him outside. Stray dogs engaged him to run and that day we lost him as he was hit by a car.
The Lord reminded me that my devastation was not only due to losing my pet, but also to regret because I was striving so hard to matter to somebody that I could not stop to play with the sweet dog He had put in my life. Through this wisp of a memory, He pointed to other ways I still strain to earn value. “You don’t have to perform to be loved,” I felt Him say. “You are safe. Trust Me. Let Me love you and out of the overflow, give. No matter how small your daily gifts may seem, I see them and a chorus of praise rises up over each one.”
We must remember this in our walk with Jesus. If we fix our eyes on being noticed by people, on achieving greatness, we will probably miss the multiple opportunities to minister that He puts right under our noses. It isn’t that excellence or that growth of ministries is unimportant, it’s that our Lord is one who delights in “two small coins” given in love.
1. AJ Russell, ed., God Calling, (Uhrichsville: Barbour Publishing, 1998)
Copyright © 2009 Rev. Pam Morrison. Used by permission.