"...I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others"
I have a close family member, (we'll call him "Bob"), who just recently decided to start going back to church services. He's in his late 80's, and hasn't gone to public worship in decades. When I first heard of his interest, I was proud of him.
We went out and got him some new clothes and a new, easier to read bible. He had chosen to attend a large, denominational congregation which meets on Sunday, with a bible study on Wednesday nights. This was the same type of church which Bob attended as a young boy.
Immediately the minister welcomed him warmly. And in a couple of weeks, he placed membership in the congregation. They gave him a study class workbook to help him learn more about the Lord. Since then, however, he has struggled with things.
As he began to study in this workbook, it was immediately apparent WHY he was having so much trouble. He has no idea how to find the books of the bible. He doesn't know anything about the differences between the Old Testament versus New Testament. He gets frustrated with trying to find "book, chapter, and verse." But more importantly, scripture is nothing more than just words to him. Bob has no understanding of what he's reading at all.
While his effort is notable, Bob isn't a particularly intelligent man. I don't say this as anything other than a mere fact. What's more, a high "I.Q." isn't a requirement in order to be a child of God. Bob, however, feels overwhealmed with all he needs to understand. He doesn't understand the idea that learning about the Lord is not accomplished overnight, it's a lifetime persuit. As long as a person continues to keep trying to learn, that's all God expects.
I've was happy to set with him and try to teach him how to find scripture, and I was happy to do it. However, in no time, I could see we had a very long way to go in order to make any progress. Still I thought we might see some improvement in time. Perhaps Bob would "get into" study and catch fire, but this was not to be.
Normally, once a person who understands the significance of what took place at the cross, certain feelings start to take hold. Our hearts and minds become filled with appreciation, humility, and a love for the things of the gospel. We want to understand more about the bible and what pleases God, who loves us so much.
Today, however, I learned from another family member, that Bob now wants to stop working on any bible study. He doesn't want to attend any more on Wednesday nights. All he wants is to go to church on Sunday and watch the activities of the services. He feels "too old" to learn about the bible and stuff like that. He'll just be happy going on Sunday, and leave it at that.
I'm sure the heavenly Father credits Bob for his faith. But He would hope for more desire to study the word and grow from it, as He does from all who seek to please Him. However, Bob feels less is better for him, and he'll be a "Sunday only" worshipper.
Initial faith is necessary to begin a walk with the Lord. But in order to be truely pleasing to God, we must do our best to grow in the word. All of us start from different places in our Christian walk, and some must work harder than others for greater knowledge. However, in a turn on an old phrase, the "journey" in this life is worth the "destination" in the next life!
A true student of the word understands this and feels the need in his heart to press onward despite the challanges involved. As an example of such effort and sincere love, witness the story of the "widow's offering" in (Mark 12: 43-44).
As money goes, she gave less money than anyone else that day. But despite her financial limitations, she gave from her heart, which meant more to the Lord. Her heart guided her actions and that pleased the Lord, just as such love expressed through faith does today.
Most of us are capable of doing much more in the Lord. We aren't reaching out with our fullest effort when we decide just to sit on the sidelines and watch others worship God. As the old saying goes, "Godliness isn't a spectator sport, it requires participation!"
As for Bob, his mind is at peace with his decision. And I would never purpose to judge him, that's left up to God. Perhaps the Lord knows of his severe limitations of mind, and that will be okay with the Master in the end. But this much is true:
We all need to make our best effort to learn and grow in the name of God through His Son and our Savior, Christ Jesus!