The Widow (3/6/13)

Read: Numbers 6:1-7:89, Mark 12:38-13:13, Psalm 49:1-20, Proverbs 10:27-28

Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:38-44)

Widow's Mite

Relate: I’ve always heard the story of the Widow’s Mite from the context of giving, but what if it really goes much deeper than that? Work with me here: 1) There are no adjectives or adverbs here. Jesus says nothing to commend the widow for her giving nor does he say anything about how she felt regarding her gift. He merely relates facts he observes. 2) If this was merely about giving, Jesus could have used a “poor man” or even a “poor woman”. The fact that he specifically uses a “poor widow” right here, right now brings us to 3) This illustration happens right after Jesus warns us against the teachers of the law who pretend to be religious then turn around and oppress the poor. It is almost as if the poor widow in fact (vs 42) mirrors the poor widow use as example (vs 40).

React: I’ve been tempted, even recently to think to God, “I’ve been tithing so You have to bless me.” Or “how can You let this financial situation happen when i have been faithful in giving?” It is true that you cannot out give God. This poor widow, at the cost of a few cents has earned eternal fame to the point that we’re still talking about her today. How many of her neighbors could say that? Yet, at the same time in context, she is having her home devoured. While she is placing her offering in the plate, bank is foreclosing on her home and there is nothing here to say that her gift will prevent that.

Giving my tithe isn’t a religious thing. It is a debt I owe to God that I am required to pay back. It is obedience. I don’t earn any browny points with the big man for doing it. On the flip side, giving to support Satyavathi (my World Vision child) most definitely is a religious thing. So is being late to work to help the lady on the side of the road with her flat tire. So is  Scout spending time with Mrs Dubose. So is… you fill in the blank. True religion is staying avoiding evil and helping the widows and orphans in their distress. It has nothing at all with how much I put in the offering plate or even how big of a sacrifice it was for me to put it there.

Respond: 

God, help me to give everything I have to give. Even more help me to realize that doing so has nothing at all to do with money. Help me to give my time, my talents, my love, my prayers, my words, my money, my passion to those who so desperately need for You to intervene in their lives. Let everything I have be used for others. Pour me out. 

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9 comments

  1. Nice piece. Truth is we often forget the true source of our wealth. Once we come to realise its really about God we wont place demands on God everytime we place an offering in the offerin box or help someone. He doesn’t really owe us anything. Whatever we do should be out of love knowing that if God can entrust someone’s help in our hands He wont withold anything from us because we may just be the only form of God people can see on earth. Keep up with the good work.

  2. My tithe is usually done in thanksgiving to God for everything He’s been doing, and will continue to do. It should be given out of gratitude and not obligation. I’ve learned here that I can also do the same with my time and talents. God bless you!

  3. Good stuff here. Thanks for sharing…and for giving!

  4. Interesting stories. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a powerful prayer . .joining you with it now. I often want to give and do give, but yes, there is that thought that He will cover me each time I do. Thanks for this insight about that! God bless you!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I give my tithes and offering faithfully too, but it was a once upon a time when I thought like the world and would say I am not going to make a pastor rich, until I begin to attend church faithfully and a pastor gave me clear direct understanding about the importance of tithing.

  7. Enjoyed your use of the context to flesh out the fuller meaning of the pericope. Nice job.

  8. Absolutely love the song you posted with this article. Thanks for sharing!

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