Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Five Sparrows; Two Pennies

When we talk about human worth, one of the verses we often go to is that place in the Scriptures where Jesus talks about how cheap the birds are and yet, not one of them is forgotten by God. Five sparrows sold for a couple of pennies, and not one of them escapes the heart of God. And we think that's what it's all about because everywhere we look, we see birds. Lots of them. Tons of them. By the dozens, sometimes the hundreds. These things are really everywhere, and in our human mind, that makes them look "cheap" to us - like you could lose a couple of thousand of birds and nobody would notice...except God, of course. 

But what if that's not what Jesus is talking about? What if it's not about overabundance and relative value...but about immense value? 

Follow me here. In the Old Testament, sacrifices were prescribed for the people of God. In such-and-such a case, bring one ram, two goats, and a lamb and present them as burnt offerings. In the case of this, bring that. In that case of that, bring this. God was very specific about what kind of animals that He would accept as sacrifices from the Israelites. 

He made provision, however, for those who didn't have access to those animals, who didn't raise them or couldn't afford them or whatever the deal was. If you can't afford to bring the sacrifice prescribed for sin or worship or fellowship or thanksgiving or whatever, then bring two birds. Two cheap birds, the kind of thing that everyone can afford. Or catch. Or what have you. 

The kind of thing that's sold five for two pennies by the time Jesus gets here. 

What if He's talking about that? What if He's talking about the birds you buy with your meager pennies to offer as a sacrifice in worship? What if those are the birds that don't escape the heart of God? What if those are the ones He knows and remembers? 

What if it wasn't ever about the value of a bird, but about the value of your offering? 


All of a sudden, everything has changed, right? We can't just get by comparing ourselves to sparrows. We can't justify that since we're bigger, stronger, smarter, more intricate, more intimate, more engaged, more whatever, then we must be infinitely more valuable than these piddly little birds that God never forgets. We can't just say that because we're human, God loves us so infinitely so because, well, look how much He loves...birds. 

Instead, we'd have to say that God values our offering, that He loves what we give to Him from a pure heart, whether it costs us a lot or a meager two pennies. Whether it feels like the poor man's offering or is a lavish feast. Whether it took every little bit that we had and didn't feel like enough or whether we didn't even notice because we have so much. We'd have to say that God never loses sight of our offering, no matter how small it feels. 

And then, we'd have to make an offering. Even a small one. Instead of affirming our immense value by comparison, these few simple words of Jesus all of a sudden cost us something.

Five sparrows sold for two pennies, brought to the Temple and presented to God as a pleasing sacrifice...and not one is forgotten. 

What are you giving to God lately?

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