Can you relate to the poor widow in this story from Jesus’ life? Maybe you’re not exactly a poor widow; however, maybe you just wonder what God could to do – in His kingdom – with what you have. You feel like you just don’t have the resources or skills to make a difference, and can’t see how your contributions are moving the needle in the Kingdom of God.
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4 NASB
Often, this passage is used to remind us that no gift – however small – is insignificant. That’s true: when it comes to giving to a church, all contributions matter, and God can certainly take small amounts and use them to accomplish great things.
I don’t think that the goal is to give the smallest amount that we can (and, I suspect that no one else actually thought that, either). I also don’t think that this illustration is telling us that we should always give our last bit of change to the church (although there is a time and a place for that, in some people’s lives).
Instead, I think that it is about giving what we have, when we are called to do so, and trusting God that it is going to be used by Him. Rather than comparing our gifts (skills, resources, opportunities) with others, and lamenting about how little we have, let us use what we do have for God.
In a similar way, the illustration of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26) is often used in sermons or lessons to remind us that every person’s contribution is important. That’s true, but I think that sometimes we feel like saying, “Sure, I’m part of the body, but I’m not as important of a part as that other person.” We feel like the pastor or teacher is saying, “It’s ok if you’re the pinky toenail of the body – we need that, too.” But, we don’t want to feel like a pinky toenail, we want to be something attractive (like a winning smile) or cool (like the bicep)!
However, while gifts may not be allocated uniformly, whether or not we are valuable to the body of Christ is not a function of what gifts we have. Read that passage above (from 1 Corinthians 12) a second time, and consider this: The body needs you. There are others in the church that require your contribution. God has a part in His plan for you, specifically.
- That guy up front on Sunday morning (whose talents – let’s face it – I sometimes envy a little) could almost certainly use your prayers for his continued walk with God.
- The picture-perfect lady (with the really great hair) that you see on Sunday morning may need a word of encouragement.
- The musician who complements the congregation’s worship with such talent may be a complete zero when it comes to setting up a new laptop…or painting a living room.
- That talented teacher in the children’s department is going to need some help with daily meals when her first baby is born.
- The quiet person in the corner of the room might just need someone to say hi.
And, if – after reading this – you still say, “Now I’m more bummed, because I can’t do any of those things, either!”, let’s not get hung up on trying to list specific ideas that are somehow more valid than others. Any given lesson on 1 Corinthians 12 is probably not going to identify my role in the body of Christ, and I’m probably not listing your role here, either.
Instead of fitting into a mold of something that we’re told, or trying to be like someone else, be you – just the way God made you. Openly and honestly ask God what your part is, wherever you may be part of the body of Christ, today. Then, listen and look around, and be ready to do whatever you are called upon to do.
You may not see the opportunity until God puts it in front of you. You may not realize that you were given an opportunity to do your part until it has long passed. In fact, I believe that sometimes God uses us and we never even know it on this side of Heaven. Do what you can, anyway. The rest of the body needs you, whether they know it or not!