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When Little Is More

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Some years ago when my wife, Valerie, and I were serving God's people in the Nuremberg area of Germany, we had an occasion to visit with an old lady in the city of Hof. She has since died, but God had called her to be one of His special people.

Her life had been hard. She had endured being raped by soldiers of the advancing Russian army near the end of World War II. She had been in a concentration camp and had lived in the very difficult years of hunger and need that followed the war.

We visited her for the first time in 1989 and found her living in a tiny, old apartment with the bare necessities for life. She would put plastic on the windows in the winter and close off the bedroom to conserve heat. She would gather little branches and sticks for the tiny wood-burning heater and essentially lived in one room all winter.

Her clothes were old and her shoes were worn. But there was a bright shining light in her eyes when it came to learning about God and obeying His commandments. I baptized her a few months later.

On our first and subsequent visits, this lady would always serve tea and, as we were leaving, she would give me an offering for the Church. I can't tell you how hard it was for me to accept the 20 German marks she would press into my hand for "God's work."

My wife and I knew how difficult it was for her to save any money, and we could see that there were many things she was doing without. It seemed to me that the Church did not need the money as much as she did. It wouldn't make much of a difference—would it?

The Widow's Mites

In Luke 21:1-4 Luke 21:1-4 [1] And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. [2] And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. [3] And he said, Of a truth I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more than they all: [4] For all these have of their abundance cast in to the offerings of God: but she of her penury has cast in all the living that she had.
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we read the account of Jesus observing the widow casting her two mites into the treasury. Jesus did not attempt to give the money back, but He did say that it had greater worth in the eyes of God than the large and generous offering of the rich man. God is just and fair—and it did make a difference.

Jesus accepted the gift of the mites with a special love. When a person has to go to greater effort to give, to serve or to live the life of a Christian, the rewards must also be greater. The little the widow gave was indeed more. God made it more. Perhaps that was in James' thoughts when he wrote that God chooses the poor of the world who are rich in faith to be heirs of the Kingdom (James 2:5 James 2:5Listen, my beloved brothers, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him?
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). Their rewards will be great.

It is harder to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ when a person is poor. It takes more effort and determination to follow principles that may mean your income is curtailed. Paul expressed his admiration for those in Macedonia who also gave though they were in poverty. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 [1] Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; [2] How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. [3] For to their power, I bear record, yes, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; [4] Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take on us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. [5] And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God. [6] So that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
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it is clear that Paul understood the riches they would gain from God.

God is perfectly just and fair. If He observes two people who are obeying Him and sees that it costs one person much more for that obedience, there can be no doubt that God will reward that greater effort. The "little" one person gives can then be more.

We read in Matthew 25:14-30 Matthew 25:14-30 [14] For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods. [15] And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. [16] Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. [17] And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. [18] But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord's money. [19] After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them. [20] And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. [21] His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. [22] He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. [23] His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. [24] Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed: [25] And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours. [26] His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: [27] You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. [28] Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. [29] For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. [30] And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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about the talents God gives to people. The result that God looked for was not so much in amount or quantity, it was in effort. Serving God with all our heart, soul and mind is what is asked of us (Matthew 22:37 Matthew 22:37Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
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).

Struggles to Overcome

Paul lists some problems that people whom God calls may face in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 [9] Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
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. Some were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers or extortioners. Each was saddled with some sort of hindrance that required great effort to overcome or to struggle with because God required that they change.

Alcoholics, for example, almost every day have to face the temptations that drinking offers in our society. It is not easy to abstain. To others, it may seem like a small thing that someone goes through constant small battles to live a godly life, but to God it is of great value. When the Bible says "and such were some of you" in verse 11, it does not mean God has removed the desire or craving from an alcoholic. It means the alcoholic abstains from drinking. That ongoing battle is to his or her credit.

Few of us realize the difficulty that homosexuals, for another example, face. They have inner feelings and desires that they do not want and have not sought. Various factors in their lives have brought them to a condition that God says is wrong. How then can Paul say "such were some of you" to these children of God?

God did not necessarily remove the desires. Many such people have to struggle every day to win that battle. They remain celibate. That takes effort and a great deal of character and determination every day. And there is much pain caused by those who do not understand or who are not kind and sensitive to the huge problem. This, too, may seem like a "little" problem to some, but God understands it to be huge. One who fights this battle has little rest and often receives little understanding or help from his or her physical or spiritual family.

God Knows

There are some in God's Church who cannot hold great offices and don't appear to be strong leaders in the Church. They seem to be on the sidelines and not strongly involved. Only God sees the effort and daily battles they fight to attend services and follow the laws and teachings of God. Only God knows their pain and suffering.

I believe that the widow who tossed two mites into the treasury waited until almost nobody was there to see her and in her heart wondered if God accepted her offering. Most (if not all) people of God who give all they have to give, still feel it is not enough—and, of course, it isn't. Except that God makes it be enough for them. Enough, filled to the brim and running over.

It was the widow who went home justified by God. What a wonderful gift it is to bring before God—a heart that is broken and seeking His mercy (Psalms 51:17 Psalms 51:17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
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)! What father could ever turn from such a child? Our Father in heaven is a much better father than any of us mortals could hope to be.

In Matthew 10:42 Matthew 10:42And whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
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Jesus stated that even the giving of just one cup of cold water would be noted and blessed. Poor people seem to understand the needs of others. They also realize their need for God. Maybe that is why God can focus on them. I find it is the poor and struggling ones in God's family who are the first to extend that cup of water. They seem to understand what loving your neighbor is all about. They seem to sense what mercy and love really mean. I as a minister have felt blessed by the examples that I have witnessed.

Their "little" is indeed more. God bless these "little ones"—every one. UN

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