Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which makes a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44
I have had something stirring in me regarding lifestyle and giving for quite a while. Just recently, as I read the book of Mark, the Lord used the passages above to elaborate to me about what was stirring in my heart about lifestyles and giving……or you might say, the Holy Spirit began to fill in the gaps for me.
Now, there will be some who don’t agree with this teaching. It will fly in the face of much of what is taught today regarding finances, giving, and lifestyle, but I believe that I must release this to you. So, here we go.
Jesus is watching the giving. That is a lesson in itself. Many try to divorce giving from their walk with God calling it “legalism” to talk about giving in relation to your relationship with God. I believe that this very story – just one in a great cache of scriptures; both OT and NT regarding giving and finances makes that argument obsolete.
If how or what we give is divorced from our relationship with God, why would Jesus even bother to watch how people gave? It wouldn’t matter at all. But, here He is watching the people give.
Here’s what I think that we need to ask ourselves about what happened in this instance:
Why was the widow’s giving viewed differently than others who gave that day? And, why was it affirmed as a greater gift when obviously it was smaller in amount?
Many might answer that question by saying, “The widow’s gift was affirmed as greater because she gave all she had to live on.”
Maybe that is true. So, is the answer to affirmation from Jesus in the area of giving to give all we have every time we have the opportunity?
If that is what Jesus is saying, then the same type of lifestyle that was in the very early church must be adopted.
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. Acts 2:44-45
Was this an early phenomenon particular to that time and place? Is this supposed to be the pattern for all?
While this type of living when done biblically might not be wrong, it appears when taking into account Jesus’ and the disciples teachings about finances and lifestyle that commonality of purse was not the stated goal. Jesus said that He didn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfill it. The law of Moses stated that a tithe was to be given, not everything. Jesus stated that we would always have the poor with us. Is the answer to such a problem – commonality of purse?
While giving does matter to Jesus, so does the motive. If we know anything about the NT, it is that relationship/love is to be the motive behind everything we do. A forced commonality of purse would take away the free exercise of love. Notice what the apostles said to Ananias and Sapphira:
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Acts 5:1-4
Lying was condemned that day, not greed. Peter is saying that they had the right to do with the money what they wanted. I’m not saying there was no greed in Ananias and Sapphira but that was not what was judged. Paul said it best:
But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. 2 Cor. 8:7-8
Notice: not by commandment but by grace and love.
Where there is love, you don’t need to enforce commandments.
Ok, so what is Jesus saying about the widow?
The great gift she gave was not calculated by the amount she gave but by the amount of the gap she closed between her life and her gift.
While the Bible commends inheritances, it condemns hoarding. Many don’t just leave a start for their children but a finish as well. What message do we send when we do such a thing? Why didn’t we give the excess above our needs to those without? What does that say to our children? Will they follow our words or our actions?
Rich people can often be as fearful as poor people. When one becomes rich, the goal often moves from using what they have for the betterment of others to never returning to the place that they have to live by faith again!
As a matter of fact, this is what Jesus commended about the poor widow’s gift:
She lived and gave without fear.
I can’t judge whether she should or shouldn’t have given what she had to live on. But, she was not afraid to close the gap!
I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” 2 Cor. 8:13-15