READING: Deuteronomy 13-15, Mark 12:28-44
“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.”
I’m not sure I know what sacrifice means. Sure, I can say that I sacrifice for God. I can preach about sacrifice and call others to sacrifice, but I still don’t know what it looks like.
You see, “sacrifice” for me usually means things like working extra hours, missing a meal, or returning a day early from vacation in order to do ministry. Maybe I have to "sacrifice" to spend time overseas sharing the gospel with people who live in fascinating and worldview-stretching places. In only a few times in my 40+ years as a Christian have I had to “sacrifice” a friendship to maintain my Christian commitment. I suppose I “sacrifice” a bit to drive a 2002 Mercury Sable so that we have more money to give to others – but at least I have a car.
Even the dollars we give to God’s work, though, are really not much of a sacrifice. Pam and I love to give to His work, yet texts like today’s reading in the Gospel of Mark hit too close to home. Evaluating my life in the mirror of rich people who gave great sums or a widow who gave all she had makes me far too uncomfortable. If I’m honest, we’re much closer to the rich people who “contributed out of their abundance” than to the widow who “put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). We’d have to go a long way to give to God anything close to all that we have.
In fact, I’m not convinced that our Christianity has cost us much of anything. Perhaps it will in the future. Maybe the freedom with which we worship Him today will someday disappear. God may call us specifically to leave North America to take the gospel to a dangerous place in the world. Our Christian stance may someday cost us income. Maybe even my role as a seminary dean and professor will become risky. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that giving all to God then begins with a willingness to give all to God today. I’m not likely to sacrifice much then if I still hang on to my stuff and my dreams today.
So, I repeat where I started this devotion. I’m not sure I know what sacrifice means – but I do want to be willing to give all I have to God. Pray for me.
- Determine whether you give out of your abundance or out of your sacrifice.
- Prayerfully consider what sacrifice God might be calling you to give today.
PRAYER: “God, forgive me for when I call my giving a ‘sacrifice’ when it’s really out of my excess.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Deuteronomy 16-18, Mark 13:1-20