Today’s Readings – Mark 10-12 and Psalms 44
Mark chapter 12: 28-44 (in part) reads this way; “As he taught, Jesus said, ‘Watch out for the teachers of the law … they devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.’ Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth; this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
The religious law in Israel contained strict rules about how to give, when to give, what percentage to give and what happened if you didn’t give. The obvious problem here was that the poor and destitute were losing their homes and their lands in order to meet the legalistic demands being placed on them by the religious leaders. The widows Jesus was referring to were probably just trying to please God the best way they knew – by giving all that they were told to. Instead of having compassion on the poor, these leaders coveted the little they could get from these widows and orphans. Jesus said they devoured widows’ houses and covered up their sin under a cloak of religion. It’s not so much that God had anything against the poor people giving offerings. In fact some of the great accounts of Scripture have to do with that very thing. The poor widow in this passage put a fraction of a penny in the offering and Jesus got all excited, telling everyone that she gave the biggest offering of all. The widow in 1 Kings 17 was about to die when the prophet asked her to make him a cake first. How insensitive! Yet, God used this offering to not only sustain the widow and her son, but also the man of God who received it from her. Paul commended the Macedonians in 1 Corinthians 8 because they gave out of “extreme poverty”, although he was more excited about their whole hearted surrender to the Lord than in their giving. Giving then is never something to be done from adherence to rules but out of a deep trust in God.
Whatever and whenever He urges us to give, whether it be two “mites” or two million dollars, I believe that our gifts must come from our trust in God. Never has my church seen a greater percentage of giving people than when there was a fresh stirring of the Spirit amongst us – the giving reflected what the Spirit was doing in the people. So too, a true gauge of spiritual life in a person or a church is how that person or church deals with money. Because giving is such a part of the heart of God, it is sure that people who know God will be givers.
- Share about a time in your life when you felt impoverished but the Holy Spirit asked you to give an offering anyway.
- Tell a story about a situation you have seen when someone was wonderfully blessed of God after giving in response to the Holy Spirit.