The Bible draws a vivid contrast between various foolish people and one wise woman who appears in Chapter 21 of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is at the Temple in Jerusalem watching people come to the Temple treasury with their donations. He sees a poor widow, her gnarled old hands clutching two tiny copper coins, come and drop both of them into the treasury. “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has put it more than anybody, for it was all she had.”
Talk about making your money work for you! Only two copper coins, and they earned her a place in history. Nearly 2,000 years now, sermons have been preached about this woman all over the world. As long as there is a church, as long as there is a Bible, people will talk about her and what she did.
All of those other people with enormous amounts of money, and none of them knew how to make their money work for them. Here she was, with her two coins, her pittance, and she made it work for her as if it were millions of dollars!
Do you see the point? It is not how much you have in life; it is what you do with it that counts. Everything we have is a trust from God. We are all stewards of what we have. And the important thing is to learn how to use it wisely by sharing it and taking care of God’s world. When we do this, we are making an investment in ourselves, in our own souls. When we do not, we are missing our opportunity completely.
God has given us certain things to be used for others, and, when we do not do it, they become a problem to our own souls. Let me tell you about the experience of one of my friends to illustrate this truth. In the summer of 1946, when my friend turned 12 years old, he wrote: “I earned $120. My mother was an insurance agent selling car insurance in the small town where we lived. Every day she gathered her papers together and headed to the courthouse before it closed at 5 o’clock. She went to the office of the county court clerk, where she asked for certain record books containing the information about automobiles owned in the county.
“The reason was that on every application for insurance there was a line requesting the motor number of the vehicle being insured. Almost no customers ever knew their motor numbers back in those days, so the information had to be obtained at the clerk’s office.
“After going with my mother many times to obtain this information, I thought, ‘Maybe there is some money in this for me. What if I were to compile a list of the names and addresses of all the motorists in the county, complete with their vehicle registration and motor numbers, and then sold the list to all the insurance agents in the community?’
“So I spent most of my summer vacation from school in the clerk’s office, scribbling away on yellow pads and then typed up the results, using carbon paper for copies (there were no instant copy machines in those days) and pedaled the results among the agents at $20 a copy. Six of the 10 agents in town bought a copy, so I banked $120 at the end of the summer. In those days, it was a great deal of money for a boy of 12.
“When school commenced again in September, I spent $20 of my treasure on clothes and supplies, leaving $100. It was not long after that when I went to church on a Wednesday evening for prayer meeting and heard a man named W.W. Simpson, who was the visiting speaker.
“W.W. Simpson was a missionary to the Indians in the area of Philadelphia, Mississippi. He talked to us about the great poverty of the Indians, and also about their great need for Jesus Christ. It would be most helpful, he suggested, if any of those present were to make contributions to purchase Bibles for the Indians. The younger Indians, in particular, were learning to read in government schools, and the missionaries had found that Bibles placed in their hands were great tools of conversion.
“I went home that night and had my usual prayers by my bedside. I could not get Mr. Simpson and those poor Indians out of my mind. The next day, during the noon hour, I went down to the bank and drew out $20 of my remaining $100. I took it to the post office where I got a money order for that amount. I had already written a note during study hall to W.W. Simpson of Philadelphia, Mississippi, explaining I wanted to do something to help the Indians. I placed the note and the money order in a pre-stamped envelope I purchased at the stamp window and sent them off together to what I was convinced was a better future for the Indians.
“That was 46 years ago.
“Now, the point is this. That $20 has been working for me ever since. I feel good every time I think about it. I do not know how many lives may have been touched by the gift of those Bibles, but, even if it was none, I feel good.
“The other $80 I eventually spent on myself. After I had a paper route and added to my bank account, I saw an advertisement in a magazine for the Famous Artist’s course for aspiring artists – a course that listed Norman Rockwell on its faculty – and I spent about $200 on a subscription to that course, including the $80 from my original account.
“After two or three lessons, and the realization that Mr. Rockwell never saw any of the drawings I did, I stopped working on the course and so derived no value from it. Thus, the money I spent on myself went more-or-less down the drain. But the $20 I spent on the Indians have never stopped being meaningful to me.”
My friends, please do yourself a favor and make your money work for you. Make God’s money work for you. Invest it where it will make you happy for the rest of your life and beyond.
Rev. Dr. Fred Andrea is the pastor of Aiken’s First Baptist Church.