Surplus and Poverty

November 11, 2018

Jesus is a keen observer and invites His followers to be the same.  We look today at the famous story of Jesus watching at the temple and observing how some are impressed by quantity over quality.  At the temple people are praised when they give large sums of money.  Yet as He states, a lot of what they give is from their surplus.  This is not to say surplus giving is wrong or bad.  When we give to the Food Pantry and Clothing Drives we are usually giving to make room for other things and the poor are still helped.  But the Lord is asking us to not look at the quantity of the stuff turned over, but from the depth from which it is given.  The poor widow gives all she has.  Her level of trust is that God will provide so she is willing to offer everything.  That full, all-in trust is the pathway to holiness.  It is not easy.  So often we give of surplus, which barely scratches the surface of the level of trust.

Years ago I went to the Olympics in Atlanta.  I can remember being very happy to have tickets for some of the track and field events.  I had everything planned out.  I talked to others who had no tickets and trusted that they would find some. They trusted that there would be scalpers, they would get some deals, and would get to see what they wanted.  I could never see myself trusting that much and just driving to Atlanta and thinking it would all work out.  I wanted everything taken care of ahead of time and for me, there is security in this approach.  What the Lord is asking of us is to put all of our security in Him. The poor widow trusts that it will all work out.  She will have enough to survive the next day because God will provide.  This story is not about wealth, it is about trust.  This story is not about surplus or poverty, it is about trust.  It we trust God will provide, then we must walk in a virtuous way, doing in each moment what the Lord expects.

One of the great opportunities on our mission trip to the Philippines was observing the Oikos Sisters.  They began small, but were mighty in trust.  They rely just on God’s providence.  Because of this reliance, they allow people like us to become the source of blessing to them through our support of their mission.  We become a part of the confidence they have and the joy they have, because they are relying on us.  As for me, I am not quite there yet on my spiritual journey.  While I trust God, there is still a lot of self-reliance and self-resiliency in me.  These places of surplus still distract me. I am trying, but I am nowhere near where the Oikos Sisters are in their reliance on God.  That total trust is so engaging.  It is why their joy runs so deep.

The Lord invites us to go deeper into our spiritual self and look at poverty and trust.  When we can no longer do it for ourselves, God can become greater than ever.  Relying on God is placing our trust in Him.

Reverend John J. Ouper