Summary: Much of our lives are spent worrying about the future and what might happen. Many times we worry more about possibilities than probabilities. Jesus encourages us to pay attention to His work in the world around us and gives us tools to fight fear.
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A recent Time Magazine cover reads "Why We Worry About the Wrong Things." In the article it says: "We pride ourselves on being the only species that understands the concept of risk, yet we have a confounding habit of worry about mere possibilities while ignoring probabilities, building barricades against perceived dangers while leaving ourselves exposed to real ones."
In news I call this "fire alarm syndrome." The news tells us the sky is falling and so we live our lives in constant fear. Fear could be defined as the "irrational anticipation of harm from possibilities in the future." The problem, as Time points out, is that we focus on the possibilities while ignoring the probabilities.
How does that work in the life of a Christian? We worry about how we are going to make it, instead of realizing God said He would take care of our needs and focusing on asking Him; we worry about the evil in the world while ignoring the flesh in our own lives; we get all anxious about the coming disasters on the whole world that it paralyzes us from affecting our own world with the gospel.
So in Luke 21 Jesus tells His disciples a bit about both the near and far future-but in the midst of it sets them on a particular course of mind, heart, and action to quell fear and instill bold trust in Him and His plan for them and for us. We can learn valuable lessons about fighting the fear of the future in our own lives as well.
In chapter 21, Jesus gives some clues about incredible change that will happen soon in Israel, and a long way off to the earth. And with the change He gives warnings and encouragements-saying two things: "I am with you, and I am in control." Those are words we all need to hear when unexpected or even expected change happens to us.
One thing we need to realize as we make our way through this chapter, much of which is prophecy, is that with prophecy God has near and far future events often mixed together. It can even be in the midst of one verse. So here in this chapter Jesus talks about both the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in 70 A.D. and the times approaching His second coming.
We begin really at the tail end of Chapter 20. The subject is giving. Jesus is comparing the money grubbing Scribes who have the outward appearance of righteousness but by their actions reveal their inward character-so debauched that they would steal a widow’s only source of support to line their own pockets. Now compare that with the widow that Jesus watches in her giving:
Verses 1- 4
In the Temple there were seven containers. One was for the Temple tax, and the other six were for freewill offerings. Much money came into the Temple treasury during Passover. Jesus watches as the rich come and make a big show with the loud clinking of coins dropping into the offering. Then along comes this widow. Luke doesn’t reveal how Jesus knew-whether by her dress or a revelation from the Spirit.
She drops in two coins-two Lepta. It was about 1/8 of a penny each, or 1 100th of a days wage. It wasn’t the size of the gift that Jesus marveled at, but the size of the hole it left in this woman’s life. You see, it’s not so much how much you give but how much you have left after you give that matters. This woman trusted God so much that she gave everything she had to live on, trusting that God would provide for her. It showed the depth of her love and commitment.
Are you committed so much to God that you will give to Him until you feel it? I don’t share often on giving, and we here at the Fellowship trust that God will provide our needs too, so we don’t emphasize it or demand that people give. But I will share with you that I think giving is an important part of your maturing as a Christian. While there is no law of tithing in the New Covenant, there is ample evidence of giving in the church. Our tithe check is the first thing we set aside each month and even when money is tight, that tithe belongs to God and it goes no matter what else happens. Do we do it so we get financially blessed? No. We do it because we love God and trust Him to take care of us. And giving isn’t confined to just mean financial giving either.
This sets the stage for the balance of the chapter, which is all about trusting God in circumstances where your comfort, your means of support, has been ripped away. It might not be money, but it still challenges you whether you trust God as much as this woman. You may be bankrupt in the world’s economy, but if you put your faith in God to provide, you are extremely wealthy in God’s economy. The scene is as Jesus and His disciples admiring the Temple.