An Obscure Widow’s Timeless Gift
July 21, 2019 | Andy Davis
Sowing and Reaping , Money and Possessions, Heaven
What we do in our ordinary lives has value if done for the glory of God. It matters to Jesus what ordinary and obscure people do with faith in Jesus.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Well, you're never quite sure what Providence is going to hand you. So, just finishing up my Bible for Life class and Andy Winn had an announcement saying that some of our power grid had gone out, and we had some electricity and not, and so, we were going to have a streamlined service. So I was like, "Alright, like how streamlined?" Alright, we affecting the sermon? And so I was waiting for, like, the red line, red X's and all that, and that hasn't come yet. So, I've still got my original outline. And so we're gonna soldier ahead. It's warm. I remember, back in the day, seeing photos, black and white historical photos of people with fans that they would hold in their hand. They were usually given, I think, by funeral homes, which I find interesting. But there is an advertisement for the fan on the funeral home, or on the fan for the funeral home, and you're fanning. The windows would be up and all that. This is a different age. But we'll take what the Lord gives, and teach us to number our days, make the most of our time.
So, if you would turn in your bibles to Luke 21. We're looking this morning at a very brief account of a gift given by an obscure widow, a woman we know nothing else about and the lessons we can learn from it. Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite movies is, It's a Wonderful Life. Daphne reminded me this morning that we don't watch it every Christmas, but we alternate; we do Scrooge one year and then It's a Wonderful Life, back and forth. It's a Wonderful Life was shot in 1946 it was directed by a man named Frank Capra. And Frank Capra was an immigrant, a man who had come from humble background and who, in his movies, consistently celebrated the triumphs of Mr. Everyman, Mr. Ordinary Citizen. He had another famous movie called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and another movie with a similar title, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and these would just celebrate the value of an average, ordinary life. But I think that theme came to its pinnacle in Capra's work in the movie, It's a Wonderful Life.
Now you know the story, but I'm going to go ahead just from my own joy and recount some of what it's about. So it's about a man named George Bailey who lives in ordinary town, Bedford Falls, and he lives a very ordinary life, and as his life is unfolding he has a strong growing desire inside himself to get out of Bedford Falls and go do something great somewhere else. And so he has an increasing distaste for the ordinary life that people live in places like Bedford Falls. He wants to go somewhere else and build long bridges and build tall skyscrapers. His father owned a building and loan, Bailey Building and Loan that gave small loans to ordinary people so that they could live in houses. And so, George Bailey has no desire to follow in his father's footsteps in the Bailey Building and Loan. But his father suddenly dies and the board comes together, and the villain in the movie, Mr. Potter, the richest man in town, very evil, angry man wants to just get rid of the Bailey Building and Loan (it's competing with him) and just shut it down. Now, George Bailey's got one foot out the door, he's ready to go to college, he's ready to get out of Bedford Falls, but he gives an impassioned speech about the value of the Bailey Building and Loan. And this is what he said, "Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay, and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so, people are human beings to him."
Well, George Bailey ends up, as far as he's concerned, trapped by the Bailey Building and Loan. Duty calls and he stays there, he doesn't go to college, he gives his college money to his younger brother, and he stays there working and he never can quite get out of Bedford Falls. And as events unfold, financial crisis comes into his life, a personal crisis, and he gets to the point where he's ready to commit suicide, throw himself off a bridge. Then God sends the angel, Clarence. Now, please don't think that I'm espousing a theology here. I don't know of any named angels in the Bible named Clarence. There are two named angels in the Bible and neither of them are named Clarence. But Clarence comes and is given, it seems, supernatural power to show George Bailey what life would have been like if he had never lived, an alternate reality universe. And in so doing, he's able to see really what his ordinary everyday, commonplace life really achieved, and his mind has changed and he realized he actually has had a wonderful life. Well, anyway, that was the theme, that's what Frank Capra wanted to get across; the value of ordinary life, the value of ordinary people like you and me living in ordinary places like Bedford Falls doing ordinary things, there's value to it.
Now, Frank Capra had that vision, he put it in his movies and clearly movies are a powerful medium, but I say to you: Scripture's more powerful, and these themes are more powerfully articulated by our Savior, Jesus Christ in this text that we're studying today than in any movie you'll ever see. In this text, in these four brief verses, Jesus elevates ordinary, commonplace people doing seemingly insignificant things, elevates it and celebrates it, and I think gives us a glimpse into what judgment day will look like for obscure people that make great sacrifices for Jesus, and in so doing gives hope to all of us, that the things we do in our ordinary lives actually have value if done for the glory of God, if done according to the pattern of Scripture, if done by faith in Christ and if done sacrificially, they're going to be celebrated by the only one that really matters, and that is by Jesus Christ. So here we get that foretaste of judgment day and here we get the theme that your daily life matters eternally. Your small gifts matter eternally. Your work matters eternally.
"The things we do in our ordinary lives actually have value if done for the glory of God, if done according to the pattern of Scripture, if done by faith in Christ and if done sacrificially."
Now this summer, we've been in a series called “Encounters with Jesus” and the desire has been as we put the summer of preaching together that week after week, that we would have an encounter with the greatest person that ever lived, the only Savior there is for the world. That you would have an encounter with Jesus. Now, we can't see Jesus with our eyes, he's invisible to us but we can encounter him through the Scripture. It is by the Scripture alone that we know anything at all about Jesus. There's nothing we know about Jesus apart from Scripture. And especially in the four biographies of Jesus at the beginning of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, they give us stories of people just like you and me, sinners like us that have encounters with Jesus. And our desire, as we have been doing all of this, is that people who come to this church on Sunday mornings, would have an encounter with Jesus Christ, a saving encounter, that you would see your need for Christ the Savior, the one who lived a sinless life, the one who died an atoning death, whose blood was shed on the cross for sinners like you and me. That the Holy Spirit would move on your heart and transform you from the inside and make you see that you can't live without Christ, you can't face judgment day and hell without Christ, that you need a Savior, and Jesus is the only Savior, and that he did die in the place of sinners like you and me, and that he was raised from the dead, physically on the third day, and that he is God in the flesh, and that by faith in him, all your sins can be forgiven. That's the encounter with Jesus that we want you to have.
Now, it's interesting that this would even be part of the series, “Encounters with Jesus”, because this is a little bit different. He doesn't actually encounter the widow as far as we can tell; he doesn't have a conversation with her. As far as we can tell, the widow who put in those two little copper coins didn't know Jesus was watching, never knew it, as far as we can tell. They didn't have a later subsequent conversation, not recorded in the Gospels anyway. The encounter is really more about the widow that Jesus has with his disciples, and through the Holy Spirit's moving in Mark and in Luke, we have these two accounts, the account's also in the Gospel of Mark, so that we can read and we can have an encounter over this widow and learn the lessons that Jesus wants us to learn. That's the encounter.
I. Jesus the Judge of All Giving
So let's walk through it, and we begin with a vision here of Jesus as the judge of all giving, the judge of all the living is Jesus. And the account gives us a strong sense of that. Look at verses 1-4 in Luke 21, "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. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'This window, 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.'" So, the image of Jesus sitting and watching all of the giving is a powerful one. I want that to be a lasting, powerful image in your mind, Jesus sitting and watching the giving. Let me make it personal, Jesus sitting and watching your giving, what you're giving, that he is sitting, watching that, observing it, making comments about it, evaluating it, that's powerful.
Jesus in the Scripture is portrayed as the judge of all humanity. He is the one that we are going to have to stand before on judgment day. It says in John 5:22, "The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." That is as God. And so Jesus has the unique honor, because he is the Son of Man, of being the judge. And the Scripture reveals that someday, every single one of us will stand before Jesus and give an account for every aspect of our lives. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad." So we are going to talk to Jesus about the good and the bad, everything, and give him an account.
Now, this definitely will include our money, our giving patterns financially, definitely will include that, but it will include also our other stewardship issues such as time and our energy, our strength. What did we spend our time on? How did we invest our strength, our energy, mentally and physically? What did we invest in? So we're going to give him an account. And in this text, there's a sense we're going to talk to him about the issue of sacrifice. What sacrifices did we make? What did it cost us to be Christians? What did it cost us to serve Jesus and his kingdom? So we're going to talk to Jesus, so that powerful image of Jesus sitting opposite the giving area in the temple watching, and that's powerful. Have that in your mind by faith; establish that in your mind by faith.
Then Jesus summoned his disciples so he could talk to them, so he could instruct them. We don't get it here in Luke's Gospel, that's implied. But we have it openly stated in Mark's Gospel. In Mark 12:43, it says, "Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.'" So, he summons them and says, "Hey, have something to say. I want to teach you about this widow." And so, he summons all of us who are disciples of Christ in the same way, timeless by it being here in the Bible now we're summoned, "Come and stand around me. I have something to tell you, I want to use this widow and her gift as an object lesson."
So, let's understand the physical setting, Jesus is sitting there, it says, opposite where the giving was happening. This is... we're told by people who wrote about the archaeology and the structure of Jewish life at the time, he was in what was called the Court of Women. So he was there, where any Jew male or female could be, no Gentiles were allowed to be there, and he's sitting there and apparently, there were 13 chests that were trumpet-shaped, made of metal into which people would pour their offerings, and the coins that they poured in, there wasn't paper money, just the coins that they poured in were metal and they would clatter as they went down into these chests. That's what you can picture. Now, this brief account in Luke, just four verses, is sandwiched by two very interesting accounts that weigh in on this brief account.
And so right at the end of Luke 20, you can look there if you'd like, verses 46-47. He, Jesus, and I love this image in Revelation 1 of Jesus with eyes of blazing fire. Jesus has eyes of blazing fire in Revelation 1. So he is seeing everything, and he sees the religious leaders of the day, who are corrupt and wicked, and how they're plundering the poor and needy and using the offerings for their own benefit, and how corrupt they are. And so he talks about them in Luke 20:46-47, he says, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets." Look at verse 47, "They devour widows' houses." In other words, they just take advantage of poor widows and plunder them. “They devour widows' houses and for a show they make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” So that's the context, the judgment he speaks on them, then goes out and sits down and sees this widow give.
And then the next thing that happens in Luke is the disciples talking about the grandiose stones of the temple, which have been embellished by some of those gifts that have been given. So look at it in Luke 21:5-6, it says, "Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, '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.'" So, the leaders who are collecting the offering are corrupt and they're using it for themselves. The building that's being embellished by the gifts is going to be destroyed, and in the middle you have this account of the widow giving.
So Jesus is speaking clear words of judgment about the leaders who are taking advantage of poor people just like this widow and he's speaking words of judgment on the temple building grounds themselves, but in the middle of it there's this widow giving. Some commentators have therefore said she shouldn't be giving, but I don't get that at all from this account. I think Jesus is celebrating and honoring her for her gift, no matter what happens to it. And so she is being taken advantage of, she is being plundered, but as far as she's concerned she's giving to God, she's giving to God. And so that's the way I see it, he's commending her for that. And Jesus, as he's sitting there, notes the giving of the rich as well as of the poor widow, he doesn't just see her. The rich are pouring in large quantities of coins. And those coins would rattle loudly as they went down the metal trumpets, down into the boxes.
Remember that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount condemned people who announced their giving with trumpets so everyone could see how much they gave. Now I'm not saying everyone that was giving that day was doing that. I'm not saying that, but there were some people that would do that. "Hey everyone, I want you to know what I've given and what it cost me." that kind of thing. So he condemns that. He would rather that our right hand not know what our left hand is doing, so our giving may be in secret. But along, in the middle of all of this rattling coins and all that comes this poor widow. She takes out these tiny copper coins and drops it in.
Now the text highlights her poverty. It says three different times, in three different ways that she's a poor woman, very poor. She has no one to lean on, no one to rely on. She has nothing and she gives, but what of her gift? The text says that the widow put in two copper coins, two lepta. The smallest coin they had in their currency, it would amount to about 1/16th of a denarius, less than an hour's work for a paid laborer in a field. So a very, very small amount of money, just barely enough maybe to get a little meal. That's what she put in. And as those two little copper coins went down, I can't imagine they could have even been heard. They were so tiny; their size was so little it wouldn't have been able to be heard with all the commotion of the rich giving many, many larger, heavier coins. And so Jesus compares the gifts. He uses her as an object lesson. He did this all the time.
You remember when the disciples were bickering about which of them was greatest? Who's going to be the greatest in the kingdom? And he calls a little child and has the little child stand. "Do you see this child?" "Yes Lord, we see the child." "Unless you change and become like this little child you will not enter the kingdom of God." So he uses her. Or remember the woman that's weeping and washing Jesus' feet with her tears and drying them with her hair, and Jesus says the same thing, "Do you see this woman?" And so he's using this widow as an object lesson. Do you see her? The widow, she put in more than anyone. Look at verse 3-4, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. Wherefore all these people gave their gifts out of their wealth but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on."
Now as the judge, he's sitting there and he's rendering a verdict. He evaluates her gift compared to all theirs. She put in more than all of them. Not only that he brings in supernatural knowledge about her situation that an ordinary person wouldn't have. She has no money waiting at home, she has no resources waiting at home, she has nothing; this is all she had to live on. So it's similar to the Samaritan woman where Jesus knew her marital history. And Jesus just has supernatural knowledge of the circumstances, and she knows they're rich, or he knows they're rich. He knows that they're putting in out of their surplus, out of their abundance, but she out of all that she had to live on. Now Jesus' verdict as judge is she put in more than anyone else that day. Now this would have been a shocker to anybody that heard it. Please don't think that Jesus didn't know math. Jesus, was it right-brained? I never remember which side. He wasn't a math science guy. Oh, Jesus is perfect in math and science, and perfect in art. Isn't that amazing? Perfect in creative writing and in all aspects. So he knew math very well and he didn't need to know the tables of weights and measures that we all have at the back. So what's a talent? What's a mina? What's a denarius? He knew it. He knew very well that these two little copper coins were the smallest currency they had. In an absolute sense of weights and measures he knew that gold's worth more than silver, and the silver's worth more than copper, and big is worth more than little. He knew all that, he knew all that. But in his spiritual economy she put in more than anyone else.
II. Some Timeless Lessons on Giving
That's the account. Now let's talk about some timeless living, lessons on giving. First, Jesus sees everything and watches all of our giving. I told you have this strongly in your mind. I feel fundamentally every week that I get up to preach, my primary task is to elevate Christ the invisible Savior before your eyes so you see him by faith. So see this: Jesus is the judge of all of your giving, he sees everything. Numbers of times I've been to Christian homes and I've seen this plaque in many homes, and it says this, "Christ is the head of this home, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation." It's good to kind of, you don't have to put that plaque up on the wall, but just in your mind, "Christ is the head of my life, he is the unseen guest at every moment, he is the observer, and hearer of every conversation and he is the judge of all my giving. He sees what I do, what I give." And so some day, Hebrews 4:13 says we're going to give him an account. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight, everything's uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account." That's Jesus. We need to see him the invisible judge of everything that we do, this is the true encounter with Christ in the text.
"Jesus is the judge of all of your giving, he sees everything."
Secondly, Jesus understands our true circumstances. He knows what's going on in our lives financially, knows very well. He knew that the rich gave out of their surplus, he knew that they were rich and they had abundance and the amount they gave was surplus giving. He knew that about them. He also knew that the widow, he knew her circumstances and that she had put in all that she had to live on. So, he knows every dollar that you make, every dollar that comes in by gift into your accounts, every windfall, he knows all of your bills, your financial obligations, he knows everything. Even if you don't have a budget, he kind of has one for you; he knows exactly what your income and outlay is. All these things, the Heavenly accounting, is there. There's nothing hidden.
Remember Ananias and Sapphira, when they sold a piece of property and gave a portion, a part, not 100% of the gift, and that was fine. But then they lied about it and they said they put in the whole amount, remember? And each of them, in turn was judged by Peter saying, “The Holy Spirit knows what you've given. You've not lied to men, but to God,” the Holy Spirit saw and Ananias died and then Sapphira died. Now again, not because they didn't give the full amount, but because they lied about it and behind that is the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. We can't lie to God. He knows exactly our circumstances. And all of our giving is evaluated clearly based on what we have, not what we do not have, and 2 Corinthians 8:12, the apostle Paul said “if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” Okay. He knows your circumstance.
Third, Christ evaluates giving based on the level of sacrifice that it entails. Sacrifice has to pinch; it has to hurt in some way, that's what sacrifice is all about. Remember when King David was about to offer a sacrifice to stop a plague and one of his subjects wanted to give him the threshing floor give him the wood for fire and the altar and give him the animals and he said, "Absolutely not." "I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God a sacrifice burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So, sacrifice, has to cost us something. It has to pinch in some way.
Fourthly, a life of bold sacrificial giving requires faith in God to meet your future needs. There may come a time that God will cause you to give away some money that rightly could be reserved for something reasonable in your life. And that your sacrificial giving will put you in a difficult position, that God then will have to make it up. It's what happened to the widow. It's easily imaginable that some of you would get in that situation. But you need to have faith that God will meet your needs. But fundamentally, behind this, some of the commentators I read seemed to critique or even criticize the widow. It's not wise to give all you have to live on? Might be better, give one of the copper coins, hold another one back or just say, "The Lord knows that I want to give. If I had more, I would give, but the Lord knows." And so there's a bit of a critique of the widow. And also as though some that take the opposite position of saying, "Unless you give everything you have to live on, you're not really giving." That's not true. Jesus isn't saying that. “Unless you give everything you have to live on, you actually haven't given at all.” He's not saying that. He's not criticizing the rich. He's just honoring the poor widow for what she did, that's all.
So, you have to step out in faith. Remember another widow when Elijah during famine was told to leave the desert where God had been feeding him by ravens and go to a widow at Zarephath. And he said, "I have commanded her to provide for your needs." So he goes and finds this widow in Zarephath and she's collecting some sticks. And he asked for her something to drink, and she gives it. And then he says, "Please make me some bread." And she's like, "Do you know what's going on here? Do you know that we're in a famine? Maybe you don't know what I'm doing here, I'm collecting some sticks so I can build a fire and go take the handful of flour that I have at home and make one last small biscuit for myself and my son, so that we may eat it and die." That's what she literally says, "That we may eat it and die." And then the Lord spoke through Elijah to her a word of promise, and this is what he said, "Do not be afraid, go home and do as you have said, but first make me a small cake of bread from what you have and bring it to me. Then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord the God of Israel says, 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the Lord gives rain on the land.'" She didn't do anything wrong. I'm talking about this widow for Elijah, by taking the last bit she had, and baking that biscuit for Elijah. And God fulfilled his promise that he had spoken to meet her future needs.
We get the same thing in a story that I read recently about the great missionary Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor was a man that God used, a visionary missionary in the 19th century, to take the gospel to the inland regions of China. And he was also a pioneer of what became known as the faith-based mission movement, where missionaries stepped out in faith and raised their funds in faith like George Muller, using his faith to care for orphans. And so before he ever got there, he was in training as a medical orderly because he was going to do some medical missions work in China. And he was doing work among some poor people in a part of London called Hall, a part of England, sorry, called Hall. And the doctor that he was working for forgot to pay him; he was a forgetful man. This happened again and again, but Hudson Taylor resolved, he wouldn't tell the doctor that he hadn't gotten his monthly pay. So he was down to one coin, half a crown, a half crown piece. I don't know that much about British currency but anyway, that's a certain amount not the smallest not the middle, it's like middle-level coin. One coin he had left.
Anyway, at the end of an evangelistic service on a Sunday night, a very poor man, came and said, "Would you please come to my home and pray for my wife? I fear that she and our new born child is about to die." So he came with this man and as he was walking and talking with the man. Hudson Taylor found out this man was completely destitute. Had nothing. He had nothing at home, he had no money; he had nothing. Hudson Taylor, for his part, had just two servings of porridge left, one for his dinner and one for his breakfast and then that half crown piece. Well, he goes up the stairs of this dilapidated apartment and as he gets in there, he can't believe the scene there. There are four or five children with sunken cheeks, clearly starving. A very weak looking woman on a pallet in the corner, and a baby, a newborn baby next to her, and the baby is not crying, the baby is just moaning. And Hudson Taylor prays for them and gives them some words of encouragement but he feels like a hypocrite. "You've got a coin in your pocket. You could help them." And the man seeing, I don't know, seeing him waiver, looks at Hudson Taylor says, "If you can help us for God's sake, do so." And Hudson Taylor is lamenting that he didn't have the same amount broken into three coins. "I would gladly give you two, and hold one of them back for my own provision." But, he wrestles and finally, he gives the man the coin and he says, "It may seem like a small thing to you, but I have nothing but two servings of porridge back in my home. But I want you to know that God is a loving Heavenly Father, he'll care for you.” Well that night he went home, he ate half of his amount of porridge left, Hudson Taylor did. And then he prayed in light of this Scripture: Proverbs 19:17. It says there that those who give to the poor lend to God. "So God I am quoting Proverbs 19:17. Would you please let this loan be a very short one." very short. Alright. And he went to bed with a heart filled of peace and joy wakes up, eats the last porridge he has, and then there's the knock-on the door. This always happens to these great men of God. And there's the postman at the door and inside there's actually folded up a blank piece of paper and some gloves, some kid gloves in it interestingly and then a sovereign, I guess, worth four times, a coin worth four times what he'd given the night before. Anonymously given. Out of nowhere. So he's thinking about the interest rate. That's a 400% interest for like a 12-hour loan, that's not bad.
So here's the thing, whenever you step out in faith and God calls on you to sacrifice, you need to trust him that he'll make up the difference in your budget or a difference in your lifestyle when you step out. I think very rarely would we be called to make the level of sacrifice the widow did, giving everything we have to live on. And so Paul says, speaking of the gifts that the Philippians gave, “Your gifts are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing the God and my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches." So as we give, we need to step out in faith and trust that God will meet our needs.
Fifthly. There will be massive surprises on judgment day and in heaven. This obscure widow, we don't know her name, we don't anything about her. Jesus said she gave more than anyone else. This, I believe is a principle of the great reversal on judgment day. In which obscure people are elevated and honored for things they did and no one else ever knew what they did. Their giving was in secret. Their praying was in secret, their serving was in secret; nobody knew their names. They did all of these good works, and Jesus saw all of it. And he is honoring this widow and this woman and this man and these servants, that very, very few people even knew what they did, and then once they're dead within a couple of generations, no one even knew they ever lived. But Jesus knows, God elevates and knows and honors obscure people who no one else knows. I just finished in my annual Bible reading one of the hardest parts of scripture for me to read. 1 Chronicles. I actually made a pledge to the men's Bible study that I would never memorize 1 Chronicles, and I'm probably going to keep that pledge. It's 10 chapters of genealogies of obscure Jewish people that no one knows the sons of Naphtali. Can you name any of the sons of Naphtali? How about the sons of Dan? And they're all listed there. Oh Lord why? Of all the other things, like other aspects of Jesus' life, a few extra miracle stories we got these 10 chapters of genealogies and I thought, "Alright, I'm probably never going to preach an exposition sermon through 1 Chronicles 1-10 either, because my lesson would be simple. God cares about people you don't know anything about. He knows their names and how they lived and what they did. And so Paul in speaking to the Corinthians, he says, in 1 Corinthians, "Consider yourselves when you were called, not many were wise, not many influential, not many of noble birth, but God chose obscure people to honor and to glorify his own sovereign grace."
"God elevates and knows and honors obscure people who no one else knows."
So in heaven, I imagine there's going to be a woman who lived during the Black Plague in the 14th century. And when everybody's out, so all the big strong courageous people ran out of the town, she stayed and nursed some people to health and caught the disease herself and died from it. And we're going to meet her, and we're going to honor her sacrifice even though you don't know anything about her. And how many such stories will there be in heaven?
III. Applications on Sacrificial Giving
Alright, so some applications on spiritual sacrificial giving. First, if I can just say to you who have come here this morning, who are not yet Christians or walked in here not yet Christians. What I want to say is God's not calling on you to give sacrificially to him; he wants to give sacrificially to you. And as a matter of fact, we can say to all of us, none of us will ever out-give God, ever. God did not spare his Son, his only Son, whom he loved but gave him up for us all. And we're not going to out-give, sacrificially out-give Jesus because Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this that he laid down his life for his friends." He laid down his life under the wrath of God for you and me. And so what I'm saying to you who came here this morning on the outside looking in, let Jesus serve you, let him sacrifice for you, let him give to you, his life for your sins. Trust in him, all you have to do is call on the name of the Lord and he will forgive you. And God will lavish grace upon grace, and make you rich. He wants to give to you; he doesn't need you to give to him. So we'll start there.
But if you have already trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, then let's learn some lessons on sacrificial giving. Ask God to search you and know your heart and know your sacrificial giving patterns. Ask him to show you how you're spending your time and your energy and your money. What are you spending it on? And is there sacrifice? Are you giving? Are you first giving of yourself to God? And then, in conjunction with what he's done for you, then what he's calling on you to give. And trust God to meet your needs sacrificially. That God will meet all of your needs, no matter what you do, how you give.
And then finally, let's not look down on people who are obscure. Let's not look down on the aged. Let's not look down on the poor. Let's not look down on people with special needs, who are born infirm, mentally or physically. Let's not look down on anybody because it could very well be that Christ is going to elevate people from all of those categories in ways you can't even imagine and say, “This one and this one and this one gave more than you ever did because of their level of sacrifice.” Let's honor the giving that each other gives and let's give in the pattern that God's called on us to give. Close with me in prayer.
Lord, we thank you for the time that we've had to study. Thank you for your word, thank you for its clarity. Thank you for the fact that in this text, you elevate obscure ordinary people. And we thank you for the joy that there is in that. Father, I pray that you'd help us to give, I pray that church members here would be faithful to give to the budget, just give to the FBC budget, and that we would think about Lottie Moon, the Christmas offering year-round, not just in Christmas, but set aside money for unreached people group missions. Lord, I pray for More Than a Building, which is less than 50% pledged at this point that we would give generously. Lord, I pray for our Great Commission Fund and for money for short-term missions. I pray for ministries that have nothing to do with FBC, they're just evangelical ministries that you call on people to give, help us to give of our money generously, and then Lord, help us to give sacrificially of our time and our energy too to make sacrifices for the lost and for the poor and for the advancement of the kingdom, in Jesus’ name, amen.