Can I Make a Real Difference?
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
Most people I know care about the sorry state of the world. They feel bad about the fact that millions of people go hungry each day. They’re concerned about injustice and violence. They hope the world economy will somehow be fixed. They would like to see the church be more loving both internally and in its outreach to others.
Most of us do care, but we feel insignificant and weak. We’re not national leaders who can shape the policies of our government. We’re just voters. We’re not billionaires with resources to improve the plight of millions of people, even nations or continents. Bill and Melinda Gates can make a real difference. But what about ordinary folk who struggle to pay the bills each month?
Whether we’re talking about charitable giving or hands-on involvement, many of us wonder: Can I make a real difference?
If “real” means big and newsworthy and impressive, then the answer might very well be “no.” Yes, there are stories of “little people” like Rosa Parks whose “little deeds” have tipped the cultural scales. But most deeds of courage and kindness will never make headlines. Do they matter? Should we even bother to do them?
Jesus answers “Yes” to these questions. In his commentary on the poor widow and her tiny gift, he redefines the meaning of “real.” God is not impressed by the size of our gift. God is not looking for people to do big things for him. Rather, God is looking for people who give generously of their goods and their lives. From God’s point of view, the biggest contribution isn’t measured by the size of its impact, but rather by the size of the sacrifice.
This means that you and I have the opportunity to make a real difference today, a difference that matters to God. Perhaps you’ll be able to offer a badly needed word of encouragement to a colleague at work. Or perhaps you’ll make a business decision that reflects God’s justice. Or perhaps you’ll be kind to the kid at school that everybody teases. Or perhaps you’ll make an extra gift to God’s work. Or, well, you name it. Yes, you can make a real difference today.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world? Do you ever feel as if you can’t make a real difference? What helps you to live out your faith even in small ways? How might you make a real difference through apparently small actions today?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for the encouragement of this passage from Luke. Thank you for reminding me that my job isn’t to do big things for you, but rather to be faithful to serve you however I can. Help me not to discount my effort, even if it seems to be insignificant. Lead me to do that which will honor you and reflect your kingdom today.
As I pray for myself, I also pray for your people throughout the world, that we might act together to share your love and truth with the world. Help us to be the body of Christ through the world, serving, giving, loving, healing, speaking up for truth, and living the truth. Amen.