BEST DECISION EVER: POSTHUMOUSLY HONORED

INTRODUCTION

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made.

By way of introduction, let me say that sometimes we don’t even know the far-reaching impact of our decisions and actions. In our human frailty we just don’t see the importance of what we said or did. We discount and dismiss the little things we say and do for God and others.

I’d like to tell you a story about a woman who didn’t know she made the best decision ever. She just did what she did and went on with life as usual without realizing the value of what she did.

That’s the way it is with all of us. Sometimes we just don’t know that we’ve made the best decision ever.

Well, now that I’ve whet your appetite, let’s get going with the story.

POSTHUMOUS HONORS

Luke 21:1-4 tells the story of a poor woman—a widow—who came to the Temple and, before she left, she dropped her offering in the collection box. It wasn’t any big deal really. She gave two small copper coins which make a farthing (KJV from the parallel account in Mark 12:41-44). So what is a farthing?, you ask. A farthing is 1/40th of a denarius. I know it’s Greek to a lot of us. But a denarius is the amount of money that an average worker made for a whole day’s work in this Biblical time period. Some modern translations say she gave what we today would consider to be a penny or a few cents. But that’s not a good gauge for understanding the true value of what she gave.

A denarius, as I said, is the amount of money that an average worker back then made for a whole day’s work. Now let’s suppose in our day that the average worker in America makes $10/hour. That may be way off base for some of you, so just put in whatever you think the average worker today makes per hour. Now let’s suppose a day’s work is 8 hours. In this framework, a denarius by today’s standard is worth $80.

This lady gave two small copper coins that were worth 1/40th of a denarius. By today’s standard, 1/40th of $80 is $2. So what this woman gave was, in our day, two bucks. That’s not a whole lot of money today. It’s a pittance, really. We consider ourselves to be in a really bad financial shape if all we had to our name was two bucks. Well, that’s the point of this story. This woman, being a widow, gave far and away what was really a pittance when you compare it to the vast sums of money that the rich folks were putting in the collection boxes. But the lady stood out from the rest of the givers because she gave the Lord everything she had!

Who of us have ever done such a thing? Yeah, some of us, quite shamefully, only give the Lord two bucks. That’s not a whole lot, considering a lot of us will go out to eat after church and spend a cool ten bucks, even more if we’re feeding the family. Which means we gave the Lord a pittance and kept the lion’s share of what we have to ourselves. Even the rich folks in the Bible story shame us by their generosity in giving. They certainly gave a lot more than our two measly bucks!

Now, just so you don’t feel too bad, giving two bucks is a lot better than not giving anything at all—especially when you have it to give. Not giving any offering to the Lord when you have a job or a source of income, even Social Security or unemployment, is, in my view, the epitome of selfishness. Really, according to Malachi 3:8, when you have money to give, but don’t put anything in the offering, you’re robbing God! It’s bad enough stealing from people. But stealing from God? Wow! That’s serious, folks!

I don’t know about you, but back in my younger, immature days, I was really critical of this widow lady. I mean, yes, I’m glad she gave something. But to give the Lord all the money you have is just plain foolish. What are you gonna live on? Where are you gonna get your next meal? Seriously, I don’t think the Lord’s gonna chide us if we gave Him a buck and kept the other buck for us to live another day.

People ate sparrows back then. You know what they are. They’re tiny little birds. A mite would have gotten her one sparrow. That’ll be a day’s worth of food for her to live on. It’s only wisdom to save or keep enough money for yourself to live and eat for another day.

But she didn’t keep a single buck or cent for herself. She gave it all away! That had to hurt!

If people knew we gave all our money to the Lord or to some other person, would people seriously take pity on us and help us out? I dare say most of us would be critical and not help at all. That will teach him or her not to be foolish! Folks, you’ve got to save what little money you have and use it to take care of yourself! That was me back in the old days. Would I offend you if I told you that’s how some of you are today if you really are that way?

A couple of things just totally amazes me about this story. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is this widow lady gave all the money she had to the Lord. I don’t think she was loony or reckless. She must’ve had enough faith to trust the Lord for her next meal and for her daily needs. Or she must’ve loved the Lord enough to obey Him and give Him His share of what she had—and more.

How many of us have that kind of faith or love? We say we love and trust the Lord. But our actions tend to contradict what we say. When have we ever given the Lord all of the money we had?

Remember. This woman’s a widow. And she’s poor. Being poor, she didn’t have a whole lot of money. She didn’t have a bank account or money hidden under her mattress. There wasn’t a Social Security network that gave her a monthly stipend. She lived off of the kindness of family and friends. She gave God all the money she had! You might be critical of her. But I think she’s absolutely amazing! Truth be told, she puts me to shame. 😦

The other amazing thing about this story is our Lord. Luke doesn’t say it, but Mark does. When you piece both accounts together, as Jesus was leaving the Temple He stopped, then took a seat across from the offering boxes. (They weren’t boxes, but Trumpet-shaped.) It was His last week before He died and, being busy as you can imagine, Jesus actually stopped for a few minutes to watch all these people giving their offerings to the Lord.

That’s one thing that I find so amazing: Jesus takes time to watch us give. He knows who’s giving and who’s not. Think the Lord doesn’t take notice of when you give or how much, or how little, you give? You’d better think twice. He’s awfully busy. But He still takes time to watch people give, or else pass by the offering box without giving a dollar or cent.

A second thing about our Lord is, instead of criticizing and chiding this lady for giving God all the money she had, Jesus actually commended her! In fact, in His eyes, the lady actually gave more than what all the rich folks were giving! That doesn’t sound right to us. I mean, come on, two bucks is a pittance when others are giving twenty, fifty, or a hundred bucks, even more, in the offering. But in God’s sight, we out-give those who give more than us when we give Him all the money we have.

So what’s my point? Brethren, be careful who you criticize. Wonder of all wonders, God praises the people we criticize! Ouch! Next time you’re tempted to be critical of somebody, ask yourself if God’s critical of them too. You just might be surprised to find Him commending the person you’re critical of!

I started my blog by saying that sometimes we don’t even realize the importance or value of what we said or did. Sometimes we make the best decision we’ve ever made without ever realizing it. It’s no big deal. We say and do things, then go on with life without giving ourselves a pat on the back for saying something nice to somebody or for doing a good deed for someone else.

As proof, let’s look once again at our Lord and this lady. Jesus didn’t go up to this lady and say, Way to go, lady. You’ve put more money in the box than all the others combined! Instead of telling the woman this, He told it to His disciples.

So what am I saying? The women went on her way and never got to hear the Lord say a good word about what she did. What’s more, the Lord went on to have her good deed recorded in Scripture for succeeding generations of people worldwide to know about her. Chances are she didn’t live long enough to see all the Gospels written and find herself the honored recipient of our Lord’s kind words. She gave what she gave, then went on her way without thinking anymore about it. The Lord honored her at that moment, though to her unawares, and He honored her posthumously by having her offering recorded in Scripture.

How awesome is that? Is your kind word or good deed recorded in Scripture? No way! We weren’t there when Jesus was alive. But I’m telling you, dear friends, that God’s recording your kind words and actions in His Book in Heaven. You may not ever know that you’ve just made your best decision ever. You might not think it’s a big deal. But believe me, God knows just how much your encouraging, complimentary words meant to someone. He knows how much your kindness improved someone else’s life. They’ll remember you and thank you for the rest of their life! God sees you and thanks you too. You may not ever hear Him say a nice word to you about it. But rest assured. He’s writing everything down. And one of these days, when you get to glory, you’ll hear Him say it to your face and you’ll probly just pass out in amazement that the Lord would say such nice things about you in Heaven. Your time’s coming. So keep up the good work. In the words of Galatians 6:9, Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up.

Keep on helping others and saying nice, encouraging things to them. Chances are, every time you do that you’re making the best decision ever. On God’s behalf, I thank you for being so nice and for saying a kind word to all the people in your life. May God truly and richly bless you! Thanks for giving me a few moments of your time. 🙂

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