The measure of a thing’s value differs from one person to the next. Though supply and demand set market costs, the significance of an item varies for individuals. Starving children would trade diamonds for bread. Politicians spend thousands on banquets to feed woo diamond-studded supporters. Wealth or need, desire or apathy. A tangible, cost-versus-benefit perspective remains clearest.
Most of us fall somewhere between the starving and elite economic strata. Neither scarcity of bread in a mud hut, nor seven-figure campaign strategies.Our lives consist of ordinary things. Paying bills, maintaining our comforts, gifts at equal cost to those we’ll receive from friends and family. We guard our resources inside firewalls, locks, and snippy attitudes. Our scarcest possession evaporates as we flit from work to social obligations to errands, adding in appointments and trips to the gym. We strike back at threats to our precious commodity of time with snark and honking.
What if the value of our ordinary things came from how we gave them away?
The significance of life rests in what it leaves as a legacy, a lasting impression on the earth by something which leaves the world behind and transcends it. We can’t take our possessions into heaven, but the impact of our sacrifices follows us into eternity. If we consider those who devoted fortunes or became martyrs, the sum of our potential to offer a legacy seems less than worthwhile. But the size of an offering isn’t what grants it significance. God views our ordinary sacrifices according to the love with which we offer them.
I received a magnificent gift last night in the shape of a most ordinary thing. Small, aluminum, and available for fifty cents or less when purchased in bulk. But, I can’t stop marveling over this priceless honor.
Let me tell you about this beautiful child of God. After finishing Bible study with the sixth grade girls, we played four rounds of tag. The youth minister announced free sodas for the winners. Elated, yet red-faced and near heat exhaustion, the group bounded inside to the snack counter.
One of the winners hung back, trudging alongside me. “What’s your favorite soda?”
I shrugged, thinking it a get-to-know-your-group-leader question. “Diet Coke. I know it’s boring, but I that’s what I usually drink. What’s your favorite soda?”
“Pepsi.” She paused to take a request from her sister for orange soda, then raced off to redeem her free drink.
In a few minutes, I paused on my way to the front doors as the moist chill of aluminum tapped against my arm.
“Here.” Still rosy-cheeked, with hair clinging to the perspiration at the edges of her face, the lovely daughter of Christ held out a Diet Coke.
“Oh! No, I didn’t want to take that from you. You have it.”
The Pepsi girl shook her head and reminded me she didn’t drink that kind of soda.
A fifty-cent can of soda might not be worth a diamond tiara in many people’s eyes, but the evidence of her spiritual crown took me aback. To a thirsty twelve-year old, a cold soda serves as a magnificent sacrifice. And I wasn’t the only one who saw this beautiful act.
Jesus highlighted the magnificence of ordinary gifts, underscoring His perfect view of our every sacrifice as well as the heart with which we offer them. The gospels include accounts of small tokens presented in great love.
“A boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish” (John 6:9) provided the starter material for Jesus’ miraculous feeding of thousands.
Jesus calls attention to extraordinary mite-offerings right in the middle of the temple. “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others'” (Luke 21:1-3).
Children of God reflect His image, not due to our wide assortment of physical assets. I don’t have Jesus’ nose or hair. You don’t have His ears. None of us have tangible items as our inheritance from Him. A collage of our ordinary sacrifices mortared in love reflects the image of God on the earth. The comfort food we donate. Time we offer to bless a stranger or friend. Little things we surrender with no desire to gain something back. Other than setting up that image to honor our Lord. Who sacrificed more than we can imagine to make us His children.
Our Savior walked among common folks. Wore his simple sandals out. Held grimy hands. Lifted up sinful women. He demonstrated the value of surrendering our humble resources to God’s amplifying Spirit. Lived with selfless love, ordinary lives become the most magnificent of all.
Will you take the challenge with me this week to find a way to offer an ordinary and magnificent sacrifice?
I look forward to hearing from you.