We recently held our Vacation Bible School with other local congregations, and I had the pleasure of helping teach the teenage class. The theme was “discovering the treasures of Christ” and looking at personality qualities that God looks for in each of us.
One lesson from our VBS that has a very strong message and a lot of validity in my life and those around me was on the topic of generosity.
Early on in Matthew, we find a passage of verses that can be very valuable to us today. From these words of Jesus, we have both a reminder and a warning.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So often, it seems, that the people around us and even ourselves as Christians get too caught up in the material things of this world. Everyone is so consumed with the idea of the dollar that they lose sight of the real treasures that we have right in front of us in God’s word. The things of this world are passing away. What are you going to have to show at the Judgement? Do you want God to see your piles of cash or fancy cars or your giant house? Or do you want to show God that you were living by the example of His Son, and following those things God has commanded us?
Now, I’m not saying to quick your job and live on the street and focus solely on spreading the Gospel of Christ (though how bad would that really be?). We have to provide for ourselves and our families. We have people depend on us. What I am saying, though, is sometimes we need to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities, and make sure that our hearts are in the right place. If you have everything you need, what more do you want?
Obviously this is not a new problem; greed has existed throughout most of written history. But in the book of Luke, we are given a real world scenario of this exact problem.
46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Jesus warns His disciples against these scribes. These men were greedy, cared nothing about the condition of those around them, and made a big deal of themselves in the public eye for the sake of showing off.
But continuing on, we see a stark contradiction to those people we were just warned about.
21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
This woman had nothing. She’s described as a poor widow. Presumably, that means she had no job, no real income, and relied on the help of those in the temple to take care of her. It will always be a mystery how she got these two mites, but that is not what is important. What is important is that she gave them up.
There are probably plenty of things that this woman could have used those two mites for. Things that she wanted. Even things that she might have needed. It might even had been wise of her to save those two mites for a time when she really needed them. But her love of God was so great that she gave them to the Lord. This woman understood what was really important in her life, and acted on her faith.
Continuing on, Jesus gives the people there a very somber warning as He tells of the coming destruction of the temple.
Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
5 Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, 6 “These things which you see—the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
This was clearly a direct warning to the people at that time, but it can also be a warning to each of us. The things of this world will inevitably be destroyed and done away with. Don’t waste on your time on things you can’t keep.
Today, I want you to take a look around you. Look at all the things that you have. Look at all the time we waste chasing a quick buck. In the end, none of this is going to matter. In the end, our devotion to Lord is going to save us, not the monetary gains we make in this life.