22 Jul A Pocket Full of Change
Dear Christian Radio…
In the movie “The Kid,” Bruce Willis, a successful image consultant, becomes frustrated with a lady who is taking a large amount of time paying for her items in an airport gift shop. One by one she uses the multitude of coins in her fuzzy bear coin purse. Coins, and the minuteness of their value, compared to large bills can downplay their significance. Yet, they are still just as much legal tender as a $100 bill. However, when coins are put together they can have just as much value, if not greater than a single bill. Willis’ character was focused on the wrong things.
We stand in awe of those who have given their all for Christ. Those who have given their lives serving in a remote mission field or giving their very life in martyrdom. It is right for us to do so. Yet for most of us, our life is not spent in those experiences. The majority of our lives are spent on the mundane and normal things which are necessary for existence. But in God’s eyes there is a beauty in the ordinary as well.
Imagine your life is $100,000. Not that your life is worth $100,000, but that your life is $100,000. Some people are asked to spend their life all at once as a martyr for the cause of Christ. The Bible commands us to honor those people. They, in an instant, gave all $100,000. For most of us though that $100,000 is given back to us in change, in coins: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and the occasional 50 cent piece. We definitely need more than a fuzzy bear coin purse to contain all the coins. Then God calls us to make dozens of penny deposits and sometimes higher amounts each day through the ordinary. Our lives are not worthless, they carry just as much value as anyone else since we are created in God’s image. We are just tasked with spending our life differently than the person who makes the one-time sacrifice. We are asked to glorify God in the faithful mundane penny deposits. So the question becomes, “how can I spend my life well?”
In Scripture we are commanded to have the mind of Christ, to think like Christ, to mimic or copy the example of Jesus. (Philippians 2, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 11:1). During the Last Supper, as Jesus knew the crucifixion was drawing uncomfortably close, he leaves his disciples with this command, “Love one another: just as I have loved you.” The command to love is clear, and the “how” of that command is “just as I have loved you.”
We must first understand how God loved us in order to understand how we are to love others.
“He took upon Himself the form of a servant” Phil. 2:7. You find Jesus washing His disciples feet, when they should have been washing His. Why did Jesus come? “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45. To be blatantly clear, here is one of the most familiar verses in the Bible: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave.” God loved so he sacrificed, served, and gave. Love is sacrificial action.
Giving…the God of everything, the creator of all, the sustainer of the universe gave Himself for you. That is his greatest demonstration of love. Indeed, the greatest human demonstration of love is giving yourself for another. (See John 15:13). Give yourself away. Your love is seen in your sacrifice. Love costs something. Love has a big price tag. Love is for the good of others not for yourself. Love is sacrificial action. Most of us won’t serve all-out in a one-time ultimate sacrifice, but our penny and nickel deposits in serving others will be the bread and butter sacrifices our lives are defined by. I don’t remember where I heard this definition, but it is soundly Biblical and it has changed my life. Love is giving yourself away for the good of another expecting nothing in return. Give yourself away. For God so loved the world that He gave.
Of all the stories I’ve heard of love, this one from many years ago has stuck with me. I’ve not been able to find the source, but I do know it is a true story as told by a father.
I took my children with me to go shopping, as we pulled into the mall the kid’s eyes latched onto a 18-wheeler semi with a sign on it that read “Petting Zoo.” The kids jumped up in a rush, “Daddy! Daddy! Can we go? Please! Please! Can we go?” “Sure,” I said, tossing them both a quarter as I walked into Sears. I felt free to take my time shopping for a scroll saw.
The petting zoo consisted of a fenced area inside the mall filled with sawdust and dozens of furry little creatures. The kids pay the money and stay in the enclosure while their moms and dads shop.
About 15 minutes later I was shocked when I turned around to find Helen walking behind me. I was baffled that she preferred the hardware department over the petting zoo. Realizing my error, I bent down and asked her what was wrong. Looking up at me with those giant limpid brown eyes she said, “Well Daddy, it cost fifty cents, so I gave Brandon my quarter.” She had given Brandon her quarter, and no one loves furry little creatures more than Helen! Then she said the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, she repeated the family motto, “love is action.” She had watched us say and do “love is action” for years around the house. She had watched my wife take my steak and say “love is action”, she had experienced “love is action” through us, and now she had incorporated it into her own little lifestyle.
What do you think I did? Well, not what you may think. Once I finished the shopping, I took Helen to the petting zoo. She stood leaning on the fence with her chin resting on her hands. I had fifty cents burning a hole in my pocket. I never offered it, she never asked. Because, she wanted to experience the entire family motto. It’s not just “love is action,” it’s “love is sacrificial action.” She knew she needed to taste the sacrifice. Love is expensive. Love costs something. When you love, the benefits accrue to another’s account. Love gives, it doesn’t grab.
“For God so loved the world that He gave...” Be a Jesus lover and a world changer. Be like Jesus. Give yourself away.