My life is complicated, my relationships are messy, and my work is multifaceted. I dream of simplicity. And I read about it, too. O, The Oprah Magazine and Real Simple are my two favorite magazines—besides InStyle and Vogue. Those are in a different category entirely. Category: MUST READ.
Every month, I peruse the pages to better my life, and then I set the self-help magazines down and return to reality. Implementation of all the self help in my life is more like a #pinterestfail than anything. For instance, I fisted Cheerios from the box tonight for dinner while I took a picture of these Martha Stewart recipes. I'll never make them. But I photographed them for you.
Jesus trumps all self-help. And He is about to drop some truth bombs today that are going to set you free through simplicity.
“Now one of the experts in the law came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is: “Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ The expert in the law said to him, ‘That is true, Teacher; you are right to say that He is one, and there is no one else besides Him. And to love Him with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ Then no one dared any longer to question him." Mark 12:28-34 (NET)
This conversation is a big one... Jesus names the two most important commandments back to back. The exchange between an expert of the Jewish law and Jesus happened in the temple courts. We talked about that last week. The temple court was for Gentile worshippers of God. Again, Jesus is emphasizing he will come near to us—all of us. His message is accessible to all. Keep in mind this conversation happened days before Jesus died on a cross. Everyone in the temple that day would have been in town to celebrate the feast of Passover.
"Then he sat down opposite the offering box, and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.” Mark 12:41-44 (NET)
Jesus has moved from the temple courts into the court for women where the priests had set up offering receptacles. While watching many people contribute, he notices a poor widow who gives out of her poverty.
"He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.” Mark 12:43-44 (NET)
God blew my mind today. I’ve never noticed that Jesus’ famous response to the scribe about loving God with all heart, all soul, all mind, and all strength came right before his teaching on the poor widow giving her all.
Maybe you are in a life season of rich blessings, comfort, joy, and prosperity. Glory to God! He is the giver of all good gifts. Savor these treasures. More days like this are in your future. Our God is so good to us. This community of Jesus followers is rejoicing with you in a season of favor.
Or maybe you are in a wilderness season: tired, brokenhearted, troubled, stressed, weary, confused, your body is failing you, and you’re ready to give up. Remember, God is with you. He will never leave you. While we wait for Jesus to come back and re-create a new Heaven and a new Earth and give us a new body, we are here with you, too.
Today God brought this to my mind, “Kat, love the Lord your God with all your broken heart, with all your troubled soul, with all your confused mind, and with all your weakened strength because giving out of your poverty, not your surplus, is the gift I desire.”
Maybe you can relate… I’m having a hard time comprehending that giving out of my poverty could be more valuable than giving from my surplus. But it’s incredible news. How many self-help books have I read about creating more space, more capacity, and more efficiency—all to create surplus? Surplus in my personal life and surplus in my professional life. And that is how I envision loving God: from my surplus, from the overflow. Sometimes that is exactly how it works out in my faith life.
But based on the scriptures, there is also value in loving God when things are not bright and shiny. According to Jesus, God also values a gift given when it’s all we’ve got. In fact, it appears He values it more.
Theoretically, many of us know that we don’t need to clean up before we meet with God, enjoy his presence, or experience his favor. But in practice I like to wait until I’m in a “good place” to worship God, give of my talents, invest my time, lead a group, teach the word, or speak up. If God is stirring your soul today with truth, make this your prayer today.
God, I want to love you with all my ____________ heart, and with all my ____________ soul, and with all my ____________ mind, and with all my _____________ strength. I am spiritually poor and it’s from this place I’m giving.