What We Can With What We’ve Got

by Tank Tankersley

Mike White and I lead a weekly Bible study at Town Village, the retirement community, on Wednesday mornings.  This past Wednesday, as I was leaving the building after our study, an elderly lady in a wheelchair pushed the door-opener for me.  She smiled sweetly as she did so, and I was struck by how very becoming her smile was.  I’m no mind reader, but my guess is that doing something for someone else made her feel good.

The cynic might suggest that what she did was insignificant.  After all, I am capable of pushing a door-opener (though this, I concede, is just about the limit of my mechanical expertise), and in another step or two would have done so.  So what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that God’s word instructs that he is pleased by small kindnesses, and I value God’s word over the cynic’s observation.

“For if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12, KJV).

That elderly lady with the becoming smile did what she could with what she had.  Do not tell me that God did not notice.

Recall the widow’s offering.  She threw in “two mite” (Mark 12:42, KJV), hardly a staggering sum, but Jesus said to her: “…Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living?” (Mark 12:43-44, KJV)  She did what she could with what she had, and the nameless widow’s sacrifice has been immortalized in the words of the son of God.

“And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water because he is my disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42, KJV).  A cup of cold water?  How could that matter?  It evidently mattered to Jesus.

I like reading about great people who have done great things in dramatic fashion – Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, William Wilberforce, and the like.  They inspire by their examples of how much can be accomplished by a life lived well.  But most of us will not do our good deeds in such dramatic fashion.  Most of us will not win Nobel Prizes, have universities named after us, or merit mention in the history books.  And the danger is that we will conclude because we cannot do spectacular things, we might as well do nothing at all, that our feeble efforts won’t amount to much.  That is Satan’s lie.  Do not be deceived.

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you:  but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.  And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

Every person reading these words can be a great man or woman, boy or girl, if he or she embraces God’s, not man’s, definition of “greatness,” and for the Christian, whose definition but God’s will matter.

Tank Tankersley (01/12/09)