A few mornings ago I took to my journal and began writing out my prayers.
Lord, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Please forgive me for my selfish heart, going to social media and the news before you. I still get anxious about what you might say to me if I open up and pray, so I push it off. But you are what I need. The other things suck me dry and fog my head and make me sad and grouchy. That’s how I feel now.
But then I stopped. I realized that while everything I wrote was true, I was trying to put on my best face. Trying to put a good spin on it. So I continued…
I need to be honest with you.
Honestly, I’m tired and hungry. I wish I were back in bed. My expectations for this time with you are low in a bad way, and I’m mad at myself for going to electronics before you. I can never seem to get it right. I tried to pray, but it was a flop. No power. No idea what I’m doing. I don’t see the power in prayer.
But, this is why I need to spend time with you. You, Lord, are the safest place to process all this. With you, I’m free to fail and grow. And I need you to develop me. You’re the one with the answers. But… you’re not just some guru…you’re where I belong.
At this point, I decided to start digging into the bible. My bible study group is reading through the gospel of Luke, and the next section read,
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”Luke 21: 1-4 NLT
I stopped here because it showed me something. We’re all bound by our own circumstances.
This showed me that we can’t all offer God the same things. But there’s also not a specific standard he’s holding us to. In my Americanized understanding of this passage, the widow had two pennies. On their own, two pennies are worthless. Compared to the rich who gave, say, hundreds or thousands, the two pennies are shameful. Embarrassing. Pointless.
In his commentary on Luke, titled BE Courageous, Dr. Warren Weirsbe said, “God sees more than the portion; he also sees the proportion.”
This is why I can find no help in comparing myself to another. This is why, when I spend time with the Lord, it is not helpful thinking about how much better someone else is at it than me. Or how much better someone is at prayer or why it seems like someone else has something figured out better than I do. When I do this, I get frustrated and discouraged and I feel like I’m never enough. Never even close.
The widow is also talked about in Mark 12:43. In this telling, Jesus called is disciples to him when he saw what the widow was giving. They weren’t watching the people like Jesus was. They were doing something else, I suppose. But it was so important to Jesus, that he called them to him.
Digging in further, I noticed that the rich people “gave a tiny part of their surplus.” This implies that they had an abundance. They had more than they needed. And, they also kept as much of it as they could.
But the widow, she had “given everything she had to live on.” That tells me volumes about her heart. She didn’t have a surplus. All her needs weren’t being met.
In 2 Corinthians it says,
“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV
We aren’t judged by what we don’t have. So, what someone else does bears no weight on my own value, purpose or calling. I am judged by what I have and what I do with it.
God looks at my heart, my experiences, my choices, my resources, and my capabilities ….independently of others.
The rich man could have pleased Jesus by giving everything he had.
The widow could have given nothing at all.
Again, it’s not’s not about how much or little I have. It’s what I do with it.
I think that’s why comparison, or envy, is so dangerous and why “do not envy” is one of the ten commandments. Instead of focusing on what we have available before us, we get trapped into how it compares to others.
But God isn’t looking at everyone else when he’s looking at me. He looks at me. And only me. And wonders what I’ll do with what I have. He wonders about the state of my heart. He wonders about my motives. How will I respond? How will I react?
I guess to sum it up, I don’t know how to pray, be generous, or live my life well. But, I know who does. And he’s willing teach me everything I need to know. So, without looking to the left or to the right, I’ll set my heart on him and follow where he leads.
I hope you’ll do the same.