It was one day when I tried to look up some stewardship materials online. I encountered one adjective, which was quite strange to me and made me a little uncomfortable. That adjective was, “God-sized.” This was frequently added to certain words and used in such ways like God-sized dreams, God-sized dedications, God-sized visions and goals, and so on. I was not sure about the exact definition of the word. And the part “sized” especially made me uncomfortable. I felt like the word tries to quantify God and convert God into a certain measurement. But how can we size up God? Don’t we believe that God’s plan and will for us are ultimately unknowable and God’s love and grace towards us are unfathomable? This word also made me uncomfortable because the messages delivered by this word “God-sized” are about pushing us to seek bigger and more ambitious things. You may find some people who say something like “you better pursue a God-sized dream.” And by saying that, they imply that you should dream bigger than what you can possibly imagine. I can’t deny that this message may encourage and motivate people. But for this purpose, do we really need the word, God-sized? I’m not sure. And I basically believe size doesn’t really matter as we dedicate our lives to God.
The questions go on if we look at today’s Hebrew Bible story and Gospel story. In these two stories, we see many expressions about size there. In the Hebrew Bible story, we see “a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug.” They were the only ingredients left for the widow in Zarephath. With those ingredients, she tried to make the very last meal for her son and herselfbefore they die in the middle of great famine over Israel. But she decided to use them to bake bread for the prophet Elijah. In the Gospel story, we see “the two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.” It’s just an insignificant amount of money compared to the “large sums” that rich people put in the treasury. But the two small copper coins were everything the poor widow had. And she decided to offer them all for God. Today’s Bible readings are actually about very small-sized things. And indeed, we hear about these small-sized things in our Bible, the Word of God.
I believe these two stories give us an important lesson on our dedication. They teach us that the size of our dedication doesn’t really matter. And our dedication, regardless of its size, can be of God. Then, what makes our dedication, our dreams, our visions and goals truly belong to God? Let’s look at the Gospel story in detail. Here Jesus also remarks on the size and quantity of people’s offering. Yes, Jesus is not a size-blind. Sitting downopposite the treasury, Jesus watches the crowd putting money into it. First, he compares the amount of offering on an absolute scale. He notices large sums and small coins. But Jesus values them on a relative scale too. He says, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44). Here, what matters to Jesus is not just quantity, but more, quality. And quality-wise, two copper coins given out of poverty exceed large sums given out of wealth. Then, what makes this difference in quality? It is nothing but faith. By her faith, the widow in Zarephath gave her and her son’s last meal to Elijah and witnessed the miracle of God that filled the jar of meal and the jug of oil again and again until the famine was over. By her faith, the poor widow offered everything she had to God and was recognized and acclaimed by Jesus. Yes, the key element that values our dedication is our faith, not size.
Meditating on these Bible readings, I was very grateful to God who measures our dedication not by size but by faith. We see in the Bible many great things done by the prophets, leaders, kings, the disciples, and early Christ believers. They marked their great names in history, transformed numerous people, led some large-scale missions, and directly participated in the course of God’s salvation. However, please don’t forget that in the Bible there are many testimonies to small and ignorable things dedicated to God in faith just like a handful of meal and a little oil, or two small copper coins, which are worth just a penny. The Bible shows all such big and small things because size or quantity is not the main concern in God’s mission, and size or quantity is not really important from the perspective of faith.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, faith truly matters in our dedications, in our dreams, in our visions, and in our goals. Faith matters prior to size in God’s kingdom. God never forgets small things we faithfully dedicate to God—small goals we try hard to achieve, small visions we dream together in the Lord. I know, to our church, all of you have dedicated your time, your talent, and your treasure as much as you can. I know, you all have big hearts for the church and big love for one another, but sometimes what you can do becomes quite limited because of your situations, because of your life. You have your work to do, your families to take care of, and some secret burdens to bear. And also I know, our church, as a small church that has a big passion to grow, have a lot of jobs to do. So sometimes, you may feel bad when you can’t dedicate yourself more. But do not worry about the size of your dedication because our God is the one who recognizes your faith. And just be hopeful in the Lord always, because our God is the one who can work great miracles even from very small things we offer in Jesus’ name.
The history of the church has continued not only by grand works of our ancestors of faith but also by faithful dedications of numerous ordinary Christians, which may seem insignificant from human point of view. But we know that they are invaluable from God’s point of view. So let us be faithful in the Lord always and keep up the good work of faith as long as we can. And let us dedicate ourselves to God as much as we can like the widow in Zarephath and the poor widow, so that God can make great miracles out of it. Amen.
Pastor Earl Kim