To Have Nothing But God

“For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” Mark 12:44 NLT

We are living in a very difficult and fearful time – a time when life is uncertain and unpredictable, a time when we feel imprisoned in our own homes. We are paralyzed by fears as our minds are bombarded by bad news and false news. We lament the loss of our freedom to meet in fellowship and for worship. But at the same time, we have more time to spend with our families as well as in  solitude. It is a sobering time to reflect on the meaning of life and death and our relationship with God.

Jesus was having a debate with the Sadducees and a teacher of religious law asked Jesus which of the commandments was the most important. Jesus replied:

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord .  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-‬31 NLT

When the teacher of religious law saw the truth that the love of God and neighbor is far more important than the all burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law, Jesus assured him that he was not far from the Kingdom of God (Mark 12:32-34, NLT). Indeed, the hallmark of life in the Kingdom of God is the love for God and neighbor. Unfortunately, it is so easy to lose our first love for God. Like the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelations, we may work hard and endure trouble by standing up against false apostles and false teachings but our zeal for right doctrines may lead us to lose the love we first have for God:

“I know what you have done—how hard you have worked and how you have endured. I also know that you cannot tolerate wicked people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not apostles. You have discovered that they are liars. You have endured, suffered trouble because of my name, and have not grown weary. However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first. I will come to you and take your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change.” Revelation 2:2-‬5 GW

The early Christians had to be reminded that the Christian faith is not about being right but being loving which flows from our personal relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave the following warning:

“Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces.  And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.  Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” Mark 12:38-‬40 NLT

Without a prayerful relationship with God, the bible is only a book of rules and may even become an idol in our lives instead of the amazing story of God’s love for us. Jesus asked the people in the Temple:

“Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David?  For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’” Mark 12:35‭-‬36 NLT

Without the Holy Spirit, we will live by the letter of the law instead of the Spirit of God’s letter of love.  It is a spiritual law that all acts of evil which includes hypocrisy will keep us out of the Kingdom of God.  Just as patients with COVID 19 and their contacts need to be isolated and quarantined, those who are infected by sinful desires will not be allowed into the Kingdom of God:

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-‬21 NLT

We are all suffering from “spiritual dementia” – we have forgotten God and do not know what we do:

“We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.” Isaiah 53:6 MSG

The good news of the gospel is that God is waiting for us to return to His Love for He has answered Jesus’ prayer on the cross for all of us:

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

As followers of Christ, our calling is to live as forgiven people who can love God with all our minds, our hearts, our strength and our souls. This is seen when we give our all to God like the widow with two mites – she gave everything she had to live on. This was not so much a sacrifice but the exercise of her spiritual freedom to make life meaningful and purposeful. In giving her two mites instead of one she chose to love God in spite of her circumstances. She gave freely because she was free from her fears for the future through her faith in God’s eternal love.

Viktor Frankl shared memories of the people in concentration camps who walked through the huts comforting others and giving away their last piece of bread. He saw in these people the truth that everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances and to choose one’s own way. When we cannot change a situation, we always have the freedom to change ourselves. We can choose to be a beloved child of God and not a slave of the world. When we are filled with awe and gratitude for God’s love that is seen through the cross of Christ,  we have God’s promise:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord , And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4 NKJV

Jesus drew attention to the sacrificial giving of the poor widow to show us the truth of how important it is for us to have nothing but God – and we will have nothing when we die. Perhaps, this is the most important lesson that the tiny COVID 19 virus is teaching us:

“Naked I came from my mother, and naked I will return. The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away! May the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 GW

True wealth is found when our lives are a sacrifice of praise to God as we sing and pray:

“Breathe on me Breath of God, Fill me with life anew

That I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.”


1 Comment

  1. GCW says:

    Thank You PAtrick. It is a reminder from the heart of God that we need to make right choices in our attitudes towards our neighbours and how we live.


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