Hidden Nuggets Series #58 – “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” – Acts 11:29
The reign of Claudius Caesar, the fifth Emperor of Rome, was marked by a series of famines. Several touched the city of Rome, one occurred in Greece and another impacted the countryside of Judea in Israel. It is to the last famine listed that the Bible specifically speaks.
We are told that when this famine in Judea occurred, the leaders of the church decided to send assistance to the region. We can only assume this meant food and supplies, as money would have been quite useless during a time when there was so little to buy. Once accumulated, the supplies were sent to those in need by the hands of the missionaries Paul and Barnabas.
What’s remarkable is that there was no squabbling on who was sending what or how much. The Bible says each person determined to send relief “according to his ability.” In other words, people gave what they could – some gave more…others less.
Thus proving that when giving it’s the thought that counts.
Taking Their Cue From a Poor Widow
I can’t help but wonder whether the attitude of these believers didn’t originate from the example a poor widow set only a few years earlier.
One day during his ministry, Jesus sat in the temple and observed people coming to give money to the temple treasury. Many rich people came and gave of their abundance (some of which made sure people knew they were giving a lot).
But then a poor widow happens by. She reaches into her sack and pulls out a measly two mites, barely enough money to cause a change in the balance sheet of the treasury. She deposits it nonetheless and goes her way.
Upon seeing this action, Jesus…
“called his disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’” (Mark 12:43-44)
Even a Little Can Help
It would be good for us to follow the example of the widow and those who sent relief to the famine stricken residents of Judea. Neither was individually concerned about the amount they were giving. They were just giving out of a heart felt desire to honor God and bless those around them.
Sometimes I get caught believing that if I can’t give a lot then I won’t give at all. “What good will giving ten dollars do for that charity?” I tell myself. It won’t make a dent, so why give it?
If I’m being honest, the issue really isn’t with the amount I’m giving. It’s become my attitude about giving in general. Just like the rich people in the temple who gave and made sure everyone knew about it, I’ve put the focus on myself not on the needs of others. I’m thinking, “What can I do?” or “What can I get out of this?” instead of “How will this help others?”
So it doesn’t matter whether you plan to give a lot out of your abundance or give a little out of your poverty. Both the small and the big gift will have an impact.
And perhaps in the end the greatest impact will be on your heart, as it reaps the emotional rewards of influencing other people’s lives.
Have you ever fallen for the notion that small gifts don’t really matter? What is your favorite charity or cause to give to? How can we make sure that giving doesn’t become about us?