Thursday, June 19, 2008

Monday Moment (On Thursday): The Three Purses

Jesus looked up and saw the rich
putting their gifts into the offering box,
and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.
And He said, "Truly, I tell you,
this poor widow has put in more than all of them.
For they all contributed out of their abundance,
but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
-Luke 21:1-4, ESV

I was making dinner last night when it happened. A Giving Lesson. I can't complain. I asked for it.

Remember the beginning of the year? The big resolution? Here it is, June. July almost. And on the six month anniversary of my little/big resolution, I found myself praying, "Lord, the year's half over. What have I done? Teach me to give, God. Teach me to give."

So the financial analysts say we're looking at a recession. Food is expensive. Housing is expensive. Gas is ridiculous. Here we are... trying to pay bills and stay afloat... and in the back of our minds, as Christians, we remember: I'm commanded to give. I'm entrusted with a responsibility to be a good steward of what I have.

It's strange how we view giving. Even as Christians. I don't know about you, but I view tithing and giving as two separate issues. Tithes aren't negotiable. But giving? I usually wait to give out of the abundance of what I have. And I'm not alone. I had an interesting conversation with my pastor some time ago about "recession".

"Wait. Churches have recessions, too?" I asked, laughing. "Surely God doesn't leave His checkbook at home."

"No," he said, seriously. "But we do. When a congregation falls on hard times, so does the church. The first check we stop writing is the one to God."

Ouch. Understandable, perhaps, but ouch.

I love Luke's retelling of Jesus at the temple. There He is - talking, maybe? Praying, perhaps? And He looks up to see a parade of people marching up to the collection plate. And then here she comes. A single woman - widowed - with two coins in her purse. All the money she has to live on. What do you suppose she was thinking as she opened her fist and watched that money fall into the collection box?

Three guesses what I'd be thinking. I'd be thinking: This is crazy. Irresponsible. I have bills to pay and a mouth to feed and no man at home to take care of me.

I'd also be thinking: Let the rich folks handle the giving. Money's nothing to them. How far will my pitiful offering go, anyway?

And then: Here's the thing, God. This is all I have. How about I catch You later, when I have a little cash to spare?

But no. If the woman... that poor, single woman... was thinking those things, we'll never know. We'll never know because she gave anyway. All of it. She gave it all. [And you know how we know those two copper coins were all she had? Because Jesus said so. He knew exactly how much money she had. He knew her finances down to the penny.] And her faith and faithfulness... more than her money, I suspect... touched the very heart of the One who'd provided for her in the first place.

What a legacy. What a testimony of a life lived beyond its means! What a picture of a woman who mattered. Not because she gave the most, but because she gave it all.

It served as a wake-up call to me. As I was sitting down to eat my dinner of potatoes and green beans, I shoved my purse aside. My purse. Then I prayed. How do I give, Lord? I asked.

You give in faith, He answered. You give what you have, and trust that I'm here watching, knowing your finances down to your last two pennies.

So did I write a check to my church, cleaning out my purse? No. But I decided to give up a few things over the next month in order to get money into the hands of people serving meals and helping rebuild a flooded and devastated Midwest. It's not much... it's not all... but maybe it's a start.

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian disaster relief organization
that provides food, medicine, shelter and assistance
to victims of natural disasters, war, disease and famine.
They need donations, volunteers and prayer.
If you can help, start by clicking here.

13 comments:

paisley penguin said...

Just found your blog through another I read. I really like it - seems like sometimes you are in my head - you worry and think about things that I do as well.

I think your writing is really great. One of my favorite posts was when you followed the Muslim woman to the bakery in Turkey. You have a real gift for writing where we can peek in to other lives and cultures but we are not prying. Travel writing seems to be a knack for you.

Millie is absolutely adorable! I have a dog and I LOVE HIM TO DEATH! Millie is a sweetie!

Looking forward to reading more.

Kathi~Lavender, Lace and Thyme said...

What a wonderful way to start off my day this morning Brin :).

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Very timely word, Brin. Last night as I was driving down country roads looking for that Strawberry Moon, I found myself stewing about next winter and oil prices and how-in-the-name-of-all-that-is-holy will anyone be able to heat their homes. To be a giver must also mean not worrying about tomorrow quite so much. Thank you for a renewed perspective.

Sue said...

Thanks Brin for the reminder I need. I do so enjoy reading your blog. Not only does the Lord know our finances, He knows what blogs we will read and He wanted me to read yours today.
Sue

Rosa said...

Thanks.
I really needed the reminder.

Faith said...

I would just like to take this opportunity to say, YOU MATTER ALREADY. I know that sometimes we forget the goodness that we already do and so I am here today to remind you. Sometimes giving isn't just about money. (Although that is nice too.) Sometimes the best gift we can give is of ourselves. From the pictures I can gather that you mean quite a lot to those little girls in your sunday school group. Who knows what effect your generous soul and great example will have on their lives in the future as they grow up to be young women. You have such an incredible giving spirit, my friend. I'm sure you have mattered to every single soul that has been the recipient of all your little "gifts", whether they were a home cooked meal, a can full of delightful flowers, or a smile and a happy heart from having a moment to escape the crazy world by reading your blog. I know that is why you "matter" to me. Every morning I get up, stumble into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and then sit down with the pups for my morning ritual. Reading, knitting, what have you. A part of that ritual is checking to see if Miss Brin has posted anything new! You inspire me and remind me that there are still good people in the world that care about others. So yes, the giving of money is important to a certain extent, but sometimes the giving of what we have is what we give on a daily basis. The small things that "matter" oh so very much. Hugs to you, sweetpea.

Faith said...

Hi. Me again. So I'm tagging you. Go to my blog and read the latest post. If you care to share, answer the following questions and post on your blog. Then let me know when you have done so! Love ya!

Kristie said...

I'll take a Monday moment on a Thursday (or any other day)! Your writing and timing are always right on!

Alicia said...

Love your blog...and your house. I, too, have a dog named Millie. She's a schnauzer. Gotta love all "Millies"!

Linda Z said...

I love Malachi 3 regarding tithing and giving. It's so neat how the Lord actually invites us to test him on this principal, so that we can receive His amazing blessings in return.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

Darren said...

Brin,

Thank you for your timely article. Well said! Thank you also for your faithful giving and for encouraging others to do likewise.

Darren Mullenix
Donor Ministries
Samaritan's Purse

Nan said...

As my husband and I struggle to pay all of our bills each and every month, your reminder is exactly what I needed. Thank you.

Jean said...

Such a necessary reminder--convicting but true. Thank you for being an encouragement by willing to be transparent about this challenge that we all face.