Obey or Sacrifice?

Clank. Clank.

One at a time, the two coins announced their arrival in the offering. Looking up, her tired eyes caught well-heeled stares from across the room. Her cheeks flushed. She hadn’t meant to draw attention.

Maybe it was best to leave now. She shouldn’t be there anyway. Alone, with few days in front of her and no income behind her, she was of little use to anyone there. Gathering her dust-covered remnant of what had once been another’s fine robe, her feet began a slow shuffle toward the exit.

But a voice stopped her mid-stride. She turned to find a small company of men gathered around someone who resonated with humble authority. His words were directed toward those gathered round, but aimed at all who had ears.

“The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!”           Luke 21:3-4 (MSG)

Motionless, her eyes fixed on him and her mouth stood agape. The man turned toward her with a smile and a respectful nod.

Shocked back into consciousness, she regained her composure and renewed her trek out the building, quicker than before.

But before passing through the doorway of the temple, she beckoned a man from those gathered around. Quietly, he made his way toward her.

“Young man, was your teacher referring to me?”

“Yes, ma’am. He was.”

“But why?”

Smiling at her aged innocence, he settled in to explain.

“Well, one of our group asked the Master a question about something the prophet Samuel had told King Saul, that obedience is better than sacrifice. It seems backwards. So the Master told us to watch those who were giving in the offering. We saw the rich over there give large amounts of money. Then we saw you give your two coins….”

“I know—I’m sorry,” she interrupted, hanging her head.  “But it’s all I had. Your teacher should have praised those who gave much more than I did.”

“But that’s exactly the point.”

“What?”

He continued, his hands now entering the conversation. “On the surface, it seemed you sacrificed because you gave everything you own to God. And the rich, well they merely obeyed because they just tithed what they should have.”

Her eyes squinted at him. “OK. So how does your teacher see it?”

“Well, ma’am. We’re not only commanded to tithe. In reality we’re commanded to sacrifice our treasure, our lives, our families, our identities, our dreams, even our desires. Everything we were, we are and ever will be should be given to God daily to achieve what he wants. Our command is not mere sacrifice. It’s total sacrifice. And in that way, you were the one who obeyed.

“You see, the rich gave God only part of who they were. They sacrificed a portion of themselves and kept the rest. But you gave everything. Your obedience placed all you had in God, leaving nothing for yourself and trusting completely in him.

“Through the rich, the Master taught us it’s possible to sacrifice part of ourselves but still not totally surrender to God. But through you, he taught us it is impossible to obey God without total sacrifice of everything we are. And the obedient offering—like yours—is the only one God really desires.

“So you see ma’am, it truly is better to obey than to sacrifice. “

Tears welled in her eyes. “I don’t know what to say. Please tell your master ‘thank you’ for me.”

“Actually ma’am, before I came over here he told me to thank you.”

And thanks to you for letting me try something a little different with the blog today. If you’d like to read the passage this narrative is based upon, you can find it in Luke Chapter 21.

Remember, to obey is to…..Live The Mission,
Greg

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