Jump Start # 2664
Mark 12:42 “A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amounts to a cent.”
This poor widow in our passage came to my mind the other day. My love of history, especially church history, allowed me to track down some old records of a very old congregation that no longer is around. My family was a part of that congregation generations ago. That church started in 1840 by some of my long ago relatives. I mean long ago—putting three greats or six generations ago, they met in a long cabin. They desired to be simply Christians and follow the N.T. pattern. A church was formed. They were governed by elders and celebrated the Lord’s Supper each week. The old record that I read was written in the 1880’s about 40 years after the congregation started. Listed was the history of the church, the elders and the names of preachers who spoke there. Pages later, there was a ledger showing what people had given. And there among the names was “Sis. Polly.” She was my great-great grandmother. It was her parents that were instrumental in establishing that congregation. And, beside Polly’s name, was recorded, one dollar. She gave one dollar. Others gave a quarter and some fifty cents. Many of the preachers, according to the ledger, were only paid 50 cents. I believe I have preached sermons that were not worth much more than that.
In our passage, as Jesus sits in the Temple, he watches what people are contributing. The poor widow gave two copper coins. They weren’t worth much. But she didn’t have much. The Lord knew. The Lord knew her heart. She gave all she had. What she gave wouldn’t change much in the budget of the temple, however, what she demonstrated was a great faith in the Lord. How would she get by? She needed every nickel and dime that she could get. However, in her heart, the work of the Lord was greater than her. It’s hard not to read that passage and drop your head in shame. We have so much. The truck of blessings seems to have stopped at our homes. That little log church that my ancestors were a part of would probably fit in my living room. So many lessons for us.
First, although we do not realize it, the Lord sees what we contribute. We often try to conceal what we contribute. We’ll fold the check in half, or turn it upside down. Maybe we do that because it’s not anyone else’s business what we give. But the Lord knows. And, just as the Lord knew that woman was both a widow and poor, he knows your circumstances. The Lord knew how much she had to live on, as He does with us.
Preaching and talking about giving makes us uncomfortable. Preachers don’t like to talk about this because they fear people will conclude that he is wanting a raise. Most times, it has nothing to do with that. Giving is an important part of our relationship in the kingdom. When you give you are saying, “I believe in this.” You want this to continue and you can count upon me to help. Everything takes money. It did back then and it still does today. Technology costs. And, to be engaged in sending the message of Christ out into the world, it is going to take some money.
Second, with this pandemic, God doesn’t give us a pass on giving. Bills still have to be paid. Things still need to be done. When folks are not meeting together, another means of sending the money in needs to be explored. Some congregations run on a tight budget. And, when we are not giving, then something, somewhere has to be cut and adjusted.
Third, financially helping the kingdom is something we all can do. Not everyone can shepherd. Not everyone can preach. Not everyone is gifted to do things publically. But one thing, if we have money coming in, then we can give. You don’t have to have much talent to give.
Fourth, we have been blessed and we need to bless others. Giving is simply a way of passing the baton on. What we have has been given to us by God. David understood this when he prayed about the temple in 1 Chron 29. There was so much gold, silver, timber and other items given for the construction of the temple. David honored and understood all that they had was from the Lord. We need to wrap that thought around our hearts as well. When we give, it’s simply a matter of having been blessed by God.
The N.T. shows what attitudes we need to manifest when we give. The gift can be ruined because we have such a stinky attitude about what we are doing. Stingy, reluctantly, kicking and screaming, complaining about it, ruins the gift of giving. God has blessed all of us. Our giving honors the Lord when we carry the right spirit.
Two small coins caught the eye of the Lord. It wasn’t how little they were but how big the heart of the giver was. Sure is something to think about.