“Quality Is More Important Than Quantity”
By Almon Bartholomew
“And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
“And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
“And he said, of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
“For these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:1-4).
Somewhere along the way much of the world has focused its attention on volume; “bigger is better.” We want bigger homes, bigger income, bigger social standing, bigger cars, bigger names, and the list goes on and on. This is not new. Then and now, Jesus is scorching those who give for show. It was common for the religious leaders then to trumpet their good deeds. Even their giving into the treasury was done with fanfare. This has not changed. Yesterday, and today, Jesus was, and is, observing.
An unknown woman, held captive by poverty gave also. She gave two copper pennies, a pittance, just two mites. Her name would not be recorded and heralded among the well known donors. But Jesus saw! He evaluated her gift and announced she was the biggest giver of the day. She was poor and should have been receiving from the treasury. Instead, she was contributing to it. Weighed in the eternal scales of the divine, she gave more than all of the rest of them put together. Why? It was because she gave everything she had in her account. Her next month’s bank statement would be a string of zeroes! The others gave from their abundance. She gave out of her poverty and want.
She didn’t do her alms for public notice. But the eternal observer and judge of man’s motives bore witness. He said she had given more than the rest. This is literally true. That upper crust crowd never inspired any one to give a dime. Yet, this unknown woman has inspired millions to give incalculable treasure over the last 2000 years. Poverty could not paralyze her extended hand to help. Her demonstration of quality far exceeded the measure of quantity.
God’s standard and he world’s standards are miles ad miles apart. Many about us, and perhaps we ourselves, are chasing that indefinable thing called success. The world defines success by the three S’s; size, speed and sound. Size; whoever does it the biggest; speed, whoever does it the fastest; sound; whoever makes the most noise about, is called a success.
This is not God’s standard of measurement. He measures success by humility and service; whoever does it not out of pride and for show, but one who becomes the servant of all becomes the greatest in His Kingdom. God’s measures on the basis of who is the greatest giver, not on the biggest takers. Let us learn the joy of giving, not getting, and we will win God’s approval!
This principle is multiplied throughout Scripture. At the border of Canaan Moses sent 12 men as spies into the promised land, All of them brought back a glowing report of the wealth, the beauty and productivity in the land of their inheritance. But, there was a split, a dividing line separating the spies. Ten said it can’t be done. There were giants and armies to conquer. Two men, Joshua and Caleb, acknowledged the presence of obstacles and seemingly impossible challenges as well. Yet, they declared “we are well able to go up and take the country”. The great majority elected to believe the ten. The positive report of the two spies was ignored.
That rejection became detrimental to all to of the people. It led to 38 years of delay and wandering through a wilderness. Which ones were guided by fear? Which ones were guided by faith? The answer is abundantly evident. Ten, the majority, the greater number, carried the day. But it was the two, the minority, who had the quality as measured by faith. Bigger was not better.
In the 14th chapter of I Samuel Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and his armor bearer confronted a garrison of Philistine enemies entrenched atop a high rocky crag. Jonathan felt to challenge them saying, “It may be that the Lord will work for us today. There is no restraint for the Lord to save by the many or by the few”. After climbing up to the heights these two young man completely destroyed the enemy. Quantity, the overwhelming numbers, did not save the enemy. The quality of faith triumphed over those with superior weapons, position and numbers. Again quality trumped quantity.
The record continues. In a time of drought and famine the prophet Elijah was preserved beside a brook named Cherith. Its waters flowed long after all the others ran dry. A raven delivered meals every day. The raven is a scavenger bird. Yet, when he brought a kosher corned beef sandwich on Jewish rye, there was not even a print of the bird’s beak in the bread! When Cheroth went dry God told Elijah it was time to challenge the evil King Ahab and his blasphemous wife Jezebel. The time of judgment had come.
Living in fear of the king, Israel as a nation had compromised its faith. It seems like history is repeating itself today! Baal had taken over much like militant Islam has today. Elijah laid down the gauntlet. He demanded a decision. “If the Lord be God serve him. If Baal be God serve him”. The contest would be between 250 prophets of Baal, and the lone prophet of God, Elijah. A God, who could answer by fire, let him be God.
The contest took place on Mt. Carmel. Two altars were built, one for God and one for Baal. A bullock was laid upon each altar. Kindling wood was laid in place, but no fire could be struck to burn the sacrifice. For one whole day Baal’s prophets danced, jumped, shouted, cut themselves and finally collapsed out of utter exhaustion. Elijah mocked them out. Your God may be sleeping. He may be on vacation. He may be talking (perhaps on his smart phone).
Then it was Elijah’s turn. To assure the people there was no funny business going on, he called for twelve barrels of water to be poured over the sacrifice, the altar of stone and the firewood. He then offered a simple prayer of but sixty seven words. A fire ball from heaven came down on the whole prepared altar built for God Almighty, consuming everything including the dust in the trenches. The mountain side rang with the shout of the people “The Lord, he is God!” The Lord, he is God!” Again the minority of one overcame the majority of 250. Multitudes witnessed this stellar event. Bigger was not better.
We move on to yet another scene. Elisha, successor prophet to Elijah, revealed the battle plans of the Syrian high command. The prophet informed the Israelite generals. When the Syrian army proceeded into battle the Israelites met them in ambush and defeated them. This happened so frequently the Syrian King suspected defection from within his own ranks. Then someone informed him that a prophet in Israel named Elisha, who got the inside track from God; he was responsible. Elisha became public enemy number one. The story is told in II Kings chapter six. A Syrian cavalry regiment surrounded the home of Elisha in Dothan. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, was scared silly by the sight. “Master, Master, what shall we do?” The prophet rolled over in bed lifted one elbow, and simply said, “Lord, open the young man’s eyes. They that are for us are more than they that are against us”. Suddenly the hills and mountains were filled with the chariots of the Lord and the horsemen thereof.
God smote the regiment with blindness. Elisha led them away, and at Elisha’s word God healed them, Elisha gave them a good breakfast and sent them on their way. You can be sure this was one regiment that never re-enlisted to be part of Syria’s foreign legion. The great truth of Romans 8:31 emerges, “If the God be for us who can be against us”. One with God is a majority. Keep those connections. Bigger is not always better.
God always places a premium on quality. Isn’t it interesting to find out where and when believers were first called Christians? It didn’t happen in Acts chapter one, nor on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, nor in chapter 3 when a crippled man was instantly healed. It didn’t happen in the Acts chapter 4. Holy Spirit led prayer meeting, nor chapter five where judgment was spilled out upon two fraudulent church members, nor when deacons were first chosen in Act 6, nor 7, 8, 9, and 10. It happened in Antioch in Acts 11, an integrated church of gentiles and Jewish people. Imagine, 11 chapters before these words, “The believers were first called Christians in Antioch”. Why so long? Could it be because, “The quality goes in before the name goes on?” Hey, that could be a good commercial for some brand of appliances. Suffice it to say. God places greater emphasis upon quality rather than on quantity! Never trade real gold for fool’s gold !!!
In the gold rush days many fought and died to get some of those gold nuggets. They had no value until they were proven by an assayer. He determined whether those nuggets were real gold or if they were real gold. God spoke to the Church at laodecia in the book of Revelation and said, “By of me gold tried in the fire.” God is the assayer of men’s souls. He determines what is true and what is false. We must make sure that the assayer from Heaven will approve the spiritual values we hold in life are real gold or fool’s gold. Let’s be found among the people who get the real. Quality will count for more than quantity.
We must ask “What is our priority what do you want to do about it?