There will be many surprises awaiting us in Heaven. Our little minds – even the most creative among us – hold no ability to foresee what God has prepared for those who love Him. Occasionally I find myself getting restless for Heaven, not for what I know awaits me there, but for what I do not know that awaits me. Among the many things that will blow our newly glorified minds when we arrive will be the moment when we learn the true heroes of God’s Kingdom. The scriptures teach that all of God’s kids will stand before the Lord Jesus and receive reward for our faithful service unto Him (2 Corinthians 5:10). If you are not careful you may fall prey that you might already know who those heroes will be, at least the ones in your lifetime. I write today to suggest something that we rarely ponder: you do not know who it is that will receive the great reward from the King in that yet-future moment. I suspect that it is not the person (or type of person) that we assume.
“Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called his disciples to Him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44
Jesus was watching the offering one day in the temple. He noted who was contributing, who was not contributing, what was being given by the givers and the attitude with which it was given. Omniscience was a plus that day in the temple because only Jesus could properly assess what was going on beneath the surface. He actually made a point to call His disciples over to teach them a lesson and He gave the highest marks to a lady that nobody else even noticed. The least was made foremost when Jesus commended her giving to the men He was training for a world-changing mission. If we had desired to choose who would have won the gold-star for financial faithfulness that day, it would have likely been an issue of learning how much was given. Whoever dumped the most in the offering plate would have walked away with our affirmation and few would have argued with us. It appears that Jesus turned the whole scenario upside down and favored the woman who actually deposited the least currency and said, “She wins. Her reward is the greatest.”
Let’s take a moment and learn together. Some of you are far more gifted than I. It is also true that I am more gifted than some of you. That is reality in the Kingdom of God; not all are equally gifted in the same areas. God knows what He has sovereignly deposited in each of us by way of our total capacity for usefulness to Him. I will never supersede my God-ordained capacity. I have limits imposed upon me by God which perfectly suit His purposes for my life. You cannot exercise a gift that has not been entrusted to you. You are unable to invest an hour here when that same hour is committed to something else over there. All of us have physical limitations. All of us have intellectual limitations regulated by God. The widow in Mark 12 was restrained financially but it did not stop her from giving “everything she had, all she had to live on”. In this I find a key principle for my own life: I can only use what has been given to me by God but…use it to its fullest I must. The question is then begged of each of us, “How are we using what is in our power to use?”
When we stand in that super-celestial moment of reckoning with King Jesus, we will have our entire life evaluated by Him. I think about this often. Were it not for grace I would still tremble at this thought because my nature is to perpetually assume that I am falling short of the expectation. Grace has taught me not to compare myself with others – especially those who may be more greatly gifted than I. Likewise I have learned not to compare with those who may truly be gifted in a lesser measure. The measure against which I will be assessed will be the yardstick of what I did with what I was given. My faithfulness is the criterion. Did I live faithfully in intentional purposing of my life for the glory of Jesus? That will be the question. To the degree that I do so will be my reward. By the way, this is also the same for you.
So back to the scene in Heaven when Kingdom heroes will emerge. How surprising it will be for many to know that their favorite celebrity Christian of the 20th & 21st centuries are not commended to the extent that Jesus commended the widow who gave her penny. I personally believe that we preachers will not be at the front of the pack when it comes to rewards because so many public ministers are receiving and treasuring rewards down here. Public ministry is dangerous and you can fall prey to believing you are as great as people mistakenly tell you that you are. Ours is a hero-worship culture and there is only one who will be worshiped in Heaven. Heaven’s heroes will likely be comprised of the simple, consistent, quiet, behind-the-scenes, steadfastly enduring believers whose names never even made the Sunday church bulletin. Jesus Christ will be the supreme focus of all the eyes in Heaven but He has promised to reward those who are faithful to Him. He promised that God could never forget your work and labor of love (Hebrews 6:10). Jesus pledged that God would openly reward every deed that was missed below and therefore unappreciated by man (Matthew 6:4). Perhaps an extremely gifted man or woman appears to be worthy of emulation and applause down here… but how do we know if they are being as faithful with their great gifting as another might be with his or her lesser gifting? So what if a lesser use of a greater gifting is more impressive than a greater use of a lesser gifting? Results are not the criteria – this is an issue of our stewarding what has been entrusted to us. Christ will assign more honor to the one with lesser gifting who uses it wholeheartedly than He will to the person who did not give their all with the greater gifting granted to them.
So, saints, cease to be swept up in all the hype surrounding celebrity Christians in our stardom-soaked culture. It’s quite silly when you think about it. Pursue faithfulness with all your might and never assume that the person next to you isn’t living out God’s will for their lives simply because their personal ripple isn’t as big as your own. And for those of little-ripple lives… your day is coming and you will be eternally pleased that you stood as tall as a nondescript widow who, 2,000 years ago, tossed a penny into the offering. She never knew that Jesus marked that moment as her doing something great. I have a sneaky suspicious that she fully knows it now.
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