Sunday and Monday, I was pounding the pavement, rocking my almost-three miles each day, getting the heart pumping happily. Both days as I walked, I found two pennies on the street. Finding these on Sunday was remarkable, but I shrugged it off: I’ve been walking those streets 3-4 days a week since October and had never found money before. Finding these coins two days in a row, though, seemed to be a sign that needed attention.
As I walked Monday, those two pennies clinking softly in the pocket of my running pants, I thought about two cents. What good, of what value, is a mere two cents? It depends on your frame of mind, I guess.
To a millionaire, a couple of cents would be dispensable. What’s two cents out of hundreds of millions? To most of us, we can take them or leave them. Maybe we wouldn’t want to touch dirty pennies. Or, if you’re like me, you toss them in a jar until you have enough to roll – or save them to use as math manipulatives.
For one woman in the Bible, though, two cents was absolutely everything she had. Mark relates the story of Jesus and his disciples standing in the narthex of the Temple, watching people placing their tithes and offerings in the offering box. Most placed their ten percent, the Pharisees making a production of such. One poor woman put in a whopping two mites – two small coins, probably worth a cent each. What are those worth compared to the tithe of a rich person? Jesus commended her offering to his disciples, for she had put in far more than anyone else; she had put in everything she had.
Those two cents made me remember, we need to give everything we have. Some have the sheer faith literally to turn over everything they have to the Lord and trust God for all their provisions. Others (I fall into this camp) recognize their blessedness in all they have, however much it is, and strive to honor God in how they use and treat it. In doing this, I have come to see the blessings even in the clutter (God did give me those children who make it), but I have also taken it as a discipline to put the stuff in its proper perspective.
Our church has been doing a study the past few weeks on living generously, and we spent an easy two weeks talking about how we can live more generously if we don’t think we always need more. I pretty much mentally checked out of the study at that point, because I don’t want more, I don’t need more, and I don’t think I need more. In fact, we are steadily getting rid of stuff, putting perfectly good furniture we were storing at the curb for others to take and selling and donating clothes (with monies going towards the girls’ soccer this season).
We also need to dedicate our work and play to the Lord. We need to play in a way that points people to the Lord, and how we go about our work needs to be a witness to God. This means working with integrity and not trying to get by with less-than-responsible behavior. It means not trying to get by with stuff. My older daughter and I discussed how I could do something and no one would ever know. I could get by with it, technically it wouldn’t harm anyone, but it still wouldn’t be right. Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
In our play, we also need to give all we have to God. This manifests itself in good sportsmanlike conduct in team sports, discipline in practice, and, for those of us
crazy fortunate enough to coach, modeling the right behaviors. Coaching soccer is like ministry to me, and I am constantly aware of how I can show the love of God to my players, both on and off the field. Giving our play to God also shows up in how we treat others, even in our casual pick-up games.
As you go through your days, give you all to God. Our offering is more than just 10% of our paychecks; it’s time, talents, and gifts – all which come from God and all which we can use to glorify him and lift others up. As for those four pennies…? They’re going in the offering plate. I’m trying not to denigrate them as “just four cents.” I’m going to trust God will multiply them as the Lord has done before, and those four pennies will end up being far, far more valuable than four cents.