Read Luke 21 here or click on the speaker icon below to listen to it.
The wealthy are piling into the temple, dropping large coins – lots of them – into the treasury. Each donation a loud clanging sound as it drops into the trumpet-shaped metal receptacle designed to literally hear the size of the offering. Impressive nods abound as the clanging is louder and more prolonged. A poor widow comes and drops in two small coins, the value of a penny. They make barely as sound as they hit the collection vessel. Small; unimpressive to the watching religious leaders. But not so to Jesus. Jesus says her offering is more than all the others because she contributed out of her poverty where the others contributed out of abundance. She gave everything. All she had to live on. A.W. Tozer says, “Not by size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it.”
The King James Widow’s Offering recount is translated as the Widow’s Mite. Mite is a very small coin, worth practically nothing. I love this translation because it turns out the widow’s mite was awfully mighty in God’s eyes.
I believe it applies to our non-financial gifts given to us by God as well. Maybe it’s writing, creating, music, teaching, mentoring, leading, encouraging, tutoring, speaking, or any number of gifts. We are quick to be hard on ourselves; we are critical and insecure about what we have to offer. We think our gifts are merely a mite. Small, unimpressive, insignificant, of no use in the bigger scheme of things. But it’s a lie. A lie that keeps us from putting ourselves in the game.
The woman has a heart focused on God and wanted to be part of the worship. She didn’t make excuses…” I need it more than they do. It’s all I have. It is so small. It won’t make a difference. I’ll give a little and hold back just in case.”
We may be holding out because we don’t think we have enough, or aren’t ready yet, or don’t feel qualified enough, or are afraid we will fail. We tightly cling to our gifts and passions, instead of giving them all away. We think they are mite, but God can use them mightily.
The truth is, God doesn’t NEED us. He can make miracles happen with His words alone. He WANTS us. He wants us to step out in faith. He wants us to take what little we have, place it in the receptacle of our God-ordained spaces, and watch Him multiply it.
Still in the temple, people are speaking of the grandeur of the temple, with its noble stones and offerings. Jesus tells them a time will come when each and every stone will be thrown down. Naturally, those listening want to know when such a thing will happen. Jesus tells them many will come claiming to be the savior with the time at hand, but first, many hard things will take place…wars, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, great earthquakes, famine, pestilence…terrors and great signs from heaven, great distress and wrath. There will be signs in sun, moon, stars, and on earth. The powers of heaven will be shaken before the Son of Man comes in a could with power and great glory.
Jesus continues, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Straighten up. Raise your heads. Redemption is near. Watch yourselves and do not be overtaken by the cares of life. Stay awake and pray for strength to escape these things taking place and to stand before the Son of Man.
Among these warnings of what is to come and the importance of being awake and aware, Jesus says that opportunities will come to bear witness. He tells them, “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer.”
Because words don’t easily come out of my mouth, I am an over-preparer if I do have to speak. These words of Jesus, while comforting, on the one hand, are frightening on the other. Why? It requires giving up control (as if I even had any!), giving up worry and anxiety about how I will sound and be received…basically it rubs against my ego and pride.
It isn’t a call to be unprepared or uneducated in the Word – quite the contrary. It is a call to be armed with truth and faith, but not with fear or anxiety over how the truths will come out of our mouth. To let the Holy Spirit bring to mind what needs to be said. John Piper says, “The words of Christ are the raw materials that the Holy Spirit works with as he teaches us what to say.” It isn’t fearful rehearsing, but rather lifelong preparation. Perfectly scripted human preparation is greatly inferior to divine inspiration.
Think about the faithful people who allowed the Spirit to speak through them. Acts is full of examples, and the powerful words of the Spirit continue today. A common theme is that allowing the Spirit to give us words doesn’t mean we won’t fumble those words, wish we had said something better after the fact, or not put our foot in our mouth. It also doesn’t guarantee human success or the outcome we desire. Because it isn’t about us and how we look, it is about God working in us for the recipient and His glory.
What mite are you clinging to, despite that ongoing nudge to give it to God? What is holding you back? What can you do today to position yourself to share it?
How can you be awake and aware…and willing to let the Spirit work through you?