Friday, March 30, 2012


We are prone to glory in the big and beautiful and to dismiss the small and unattractive. That’s just the way that we are. We are prone to see things from man’s perspective, but God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Jesus and His disciples were at the temple, and they saw things. But His perspective on the things they saw was altogether different than the norm. He “looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury” (Luke 21:1). Undoubtedly there were some pretty large gifts given. And those gifts and givers were of the kind that would be honored by men. Most would have little regard for the “two small copper coins” given by the poor widow (Luke 21:2). But Jesus saw things differently. Not only did He recognize her gift, He deemed it to be “more than” what was given by the others (Luke 21:3). He noted that she gave out of her poverty, while the others gave out of their surplus (Luke 21:4). Indeed, she gave “all that she had to live on” (Luke 21:4). The poor widow was commended inasmuch as she gave in love, by faith, and with sacrifice.

While they were there “some were talking about the temple” (Luke 21:5). It was “adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts” (Luke 21:5). One of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1). By all accounts it was a beautiful building. It could be seen from all of Jerusalem and was the pride of the Jewish people. People were enamored with it.

The temple was big and beautiful, but doomed to destruction (Luke 21:6). One “greater in the temple” was in their midst (Matthew 11:6), but He had “no stately form or majesty…nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isaiah 53:2). He was born in a stable, impoverished in His life, hung upon a cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb. He was small and unattractive in the eyes of the world—as demonstrated in His crucifixion (John 1:10-11)--but He is the all glorious and eternal Son of God who will reign forever and ever. There will come a day when every knee will bow before Him (Philippians 2:10).

There is a wide gulf between God’s ways and Man’s ways. The gulf cannot be bridged by human intellect or reason. God’s intervention in our lives is necessary if we are to see things from His perspective. We must be Spirit-led to see things as they truly are (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

This tendency to esteem the “big and beautiful” is readily apparent. The biggest church in America has no room for Jesus and His cross. But their church services can be viewed weekly on TV. The pastor’s books are widely read. I remember visiting a church in a village in Uganda. The Pastor spoke thankfully how God had privileged him to start construction of his church building. Motivated by love for Jesus and the desire to share the gospel, he had used his own property to build a church (instead of building a home for himself). At the point of our visit the church consisted of some poles in the ground and a tarp for a roof. He had begun the church in a place where spiritual opposition had doomed previous efforts. He had but a few in attendance. But he was undeterred and trusting in God for His protection and provision. Big and beautiful or small and unattractive? What do you think (Cf. Revelation 3:17; 2:9)?

Harriet Pollard played the piano for Lewis and Clark Bible Church for over fifty years. I was so blessed by her cheerful disposition and wonderful example. In her later years, before she departed to be with Jesus, she was able to make her way to the platform only with assistance. She joked with me one day of how she had, as a young girl, snickered to herself at the sight of the old ladies struggling to make their way up the steps to church. In those final years of piano playing she developed arthritis and was not always able to hit all the notes. But she delighted in serving Jesus in that way and was undeterred in her sacrifice. In these days of big, entertaining church music programs, many would dismiss (or even despise) her efforts. Big and beautiful or small and unattractive? What do you think?

We are all too prone in these days to elevate the big church, charismatic preacher, or talented performer. I’m of a mind that God is most concerned with what is in the heart of each individual. Many of God’s children serve humbly and anonymously (Cf. Matthew 25:37-39, “when did we”). No one, but God, may know about their efforts. Their service flows from a heart of glad-hearted sacrifice (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They could care less if anyone else sees or knows. It is enough to please the Jesus who died for them (2 Corinthians 5:9). Such sacrifices are big and beautiful in God’s sight (no matter what others say or think)—in the end that will be all that matters (Matthew 25:23; Hebrews 13:15-16).

Pastor Jerry

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