Our April lesson in our series “Save the Drama for Your Mama” was on the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44. One thing I’ve noticed, and am guilty of myself, is people have money for what they deem important.
In Mark 12:41 we are told that “Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury:” This tells me that Christ sees our giving. He sees everything. Nothing escapes him. The verse goes on to say “and many that were rich cast in much.” That’s great, right? If you have it, you should give. And you should give abundantly. Verse 42 states “And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.” That would have been the smallest denomination in use at that time. Maybe equal to our pennies. But many commentators believe it was all she had to live on for that day. Can you imagine? Giving your entire salary for one day? Notice it was a widow. She had no husband, no one else to contribute to the family finances.
In verse 43, Jesus calls his disciples over: “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.” I wonder what the disciples must have thought. “Really? You do realize she only put in two mites.” “Come on! Didn’t you see that guy just put in $100!” “What do you mean ALL? You mean to tell us her two mites were greater than all the other offerings put together?!” Sometimes the disciples were a little slow (much like we are.)
Jesus goes on to explain in verse 44. “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.” God does not see the gift as much as He sees the giver. William Barclay said, “The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice.” “When it comes to our giving, God sees more than the portion: he also sees the proportion. Men see what is given, but God sees what is left and by that he measures the gift and the condition of our hearts.” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Courageous)
I’m not talking about tithing here. I think that is a totally different subject. We’re talking about giving above the tithe. (And to be honest, do we have to wait for a special offering at church to help those in need?) Our church ladies have been known to honor ministry wives with a special offering. This is above the tithe. This is something they do from their hearts. My husband has no idea who gives what, nor should he know. But God does. Like I told our ladies, if you tell your friend you can’t participate in a special offering all the while you are on your latest smartphone driving to a salon to get a pedicure with a large Starbucks drink in hand, I would say your priorities are out of order. Smartphones, pedicures, and Starbucks are not evil. (I enjoy all 3) But if we indulge in those things, and neglect the ministry, something is askew.
I looked up what people spend their money on. Let me preface by saying these things in and of themselves are not bad.
- Cell phones: 90% of Americans have one. 58% have smartphones.
- Starbucks: (this hits home) though I couldn’t find an exact amount for this specific company, I did find that the average American spends $1,000/year on coffee. (yes, sadly, I am among this statistic. Though I’m sure my spending isn’t nearly that high.)
- Pets: Americans spent $56 billion on pets last year alone.
- Movies: (going to the theater) 2012 reported $10.84 billion on ticket sales
- Entertainment: (buying movies, music, concerts, etc.) projected to reach $597 billion by the year 2016.
C.S. Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity”, says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc. is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditures excludes them.” When is the last time you gave to a special offering, helped someone in need, or bought a struggling single parent some groceries?
In II Corinthians 8:1-5 the Bible tells us of a church that “…in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” They gave as though they were rich. They didn’t complain about their husband’s income, their small house, their old car, (yes, I know there were no cars in the Bible. I’m sure they didn’t complain about their old donkeys either.) 🙂 or the meager provisions in the kitchen cabinet. According to verse 5, they “…first gave their own selves to the Lord…” They were fully surrendered to the Lord. “When we give ourselves to the Lord, we then give Him all we have, to be called for and disposed of according to His will. Whatever we use or lay out for God, it is only giving to Him what is His own.” (Matthew Henry) I’m not sure why we act like what we have is ours to keep. We should be giving back to the One who gave to us first.
We really should be careful in our complaining about our financial situations. I think we need to look at other situations and say, “Thank you, Lord. My situation could be so much worse.” Not to make ourselves feel superior, but to concentrate on God’s goodness and blessings. Out of that gratitude we should give, and give liberally.
Captain Levy, a believer from Philadelphia, was once asked how he could give so much to the Lord’s work and still possess great wealth. The Captain replied, “Oh, as I shovel it out, He shovels it in, and the Lord has a bigger shovel.”