The Widow's Mite

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Standard; Mr 12:41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.
 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.
 43 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;
 44 "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
 (NKJV)

How do you feel when you drop your offering envelope into our offering basket by the door? Are you self-conscious in anyway? Are you concerned that someone might see what you have written on your envelope, or check, or seen the amount of cash you have thrown in?

How would you feel if we turned this into a spectator sport? If someone pulled up a chair and just sat watching you and all others who deposited their offering. How would you feel if that someone was Jesus? Well it is Jesus! He observes every giver who drops any sum into our offering basket. Not only that. But He has access to your checking and savings account balance. He knows what you have and He knows what you give.

Now, this is not to put you on a guilt trip, but rather to allow you to do a spot check on your own heart.
Do I give out of humility and deep gratitude as the widow gave, or do I make the sound of a loud trumpet before I place my offering so others will know what a great Christian I must be.  Do I give out of thankfulness or, “Here's a little something for Your kingdom Lord.”

Now, our little offering basket here at Living Word is small potatoes. Not so in the temple. This “treasury” of the temple, had thirteen shofar boxes to receive offerings. 13 different designations for offerings and temple taxes.

There was one for  “new shekel dues, another for old shekel dues, (these were the annual temple taxes which consisted of two days wages.)  another for bird offerings (to purchase turtle doves for sacrifice) another for young birds for whole offerings  (pigeons) another for wood,  another for frankincense, another for gold, and six others for free will offerings.
All of these monies were used for daily temple operations and upkeep.
These shofar boxes looked a little bit like the victrola that I have pictured on the front of your bulletin. Wide enough that you couldn't miss with your coins and narrow enough at the bottom, that no one could fish any money out! Imagine how, “in your face” this was! Thirteen of those puppies greeting you as you came to church every Sunday! Shouting “Feed me!”

 Now, these “trumpet” shaped receptacles ought to make another portion of Scripture come alive for you, namely  Mt 6:2, and 3. "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 (RSV)

You see the more coins you tossed into the the trumpet the louder the noise, the more heralded your offering would be in the sight of men. This then is the trumpet that was blown by hypocrites, and it makes sense, I mean otherwise you'd have to pay Louis Armstrong to follow you around all day tootin his horn whenever you did something charitable!

And PLEASE, just one hand to drop in the coins....not two:  Mt 6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
 (RSV)

Aren't you glad our system of giving is a little different than that?  Aren't you glad we don't have people gawking at your offering through a public posting as many churches use to do?  And we don't have 13 different designated funds for your offering. But we do have some, and I think this is a good time to talk about them. Our envelope has a place for the general offering, which is used to support the church workers and the day to day operations of the church. This is where your tithe should go.

Anything above the tithe can then be designated for these other funds.

The  benevolent fund  which is used to supply the needs of the poor in the congregation, the community, and the world.The building fund  (for construction and maintenance of a worship facility)  the education fund (for scholarship help for those pursuing education at a Christian School)  and the missions fund, (used to help defray the costs of short term mission trips or supplying a need on the mission field)  
These funds are rarely given to, but they are fed on a regular basis by taking 10% of the general offering and applying equally to the benevolent fund, the building fund, the missions fund, the education fund, and supporting the various ministries of the AFLC.

So here's Jesus sitting and observing the wallets and the hearts of these worshipers. The loud clanging of the wealthy as they give of their abundance, and suddenly He hears the quiet tinkling of the coins from the widow.  2 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. (not much noise in the Greek)  

His ears perk up! And this is the first lesson we need to learn from this account.  God's ears always perk up in the presence of a quiet and humble spirit.

Peter likens such a spirit to that of an imperishable jewel:

 1Pe 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

It's not the noise of the coins that gets His attention, it's the quietness of the heart.

The loud clanging of the coins reflecting the boisterous heart of the hypocrites, the barely audible mites, reflecting  a spirit of humility and emptiness in the widow.

What were these mites worth by today's standards? Well let's assume an annual take home income  of  22,000 dollars. A mite was worth 1/64th of a days wage. At that rate the woman deposited 97.3 cents into the shofar box.....she literally gave her last dollar.

Jesus didn't want His disciples to miss this teachable moment, so He called them over to Him and said,   "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;
 44 "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.


Now look, this is not just the poor widow vs brother Bill Gates. This is the widow vs “all those” who had put in. In the eyes of God, their total was less than hers, and again we see that God's measuring system is not our measuring system. He looks at quality not quantity. The widow's heart was larger than all the other hearts combined!

As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago God isn't so much into linear measurement as He is into volume or fullness. And what He saw here was a heart filled with the love of Christ. For the temple (which she was giving to) is nothing but a foreshadow of Jesus Christ and she gave her all to all it foreshadowed.

Look again at that last verse: "44 "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. (Her very life)

What did the rich (a picture of the spiritually self-sufficient) give to Christ? What did they give to that which foreshadowed the Son of the Living God? They put in out of their “abundance” the Greek word actually means superabundance. They gave what they wouldn't miss. They gave just a portion of their life.....what was convenient.  
 
Listen to the words of Augustine, “ That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.”

Ouch!

Did you know that more than 90% of an average church budget never leaves the country. Today, most of the church's resources are tiued up in building projects. Only 5.7% of giving goes to foreign missions, and 87% of that goes for work among those who are already Christians.  Americans spend more money on pet food and chewing gum than the cause of world missions.

That's what we've done with the blessings God has given us. Randy Alcorn's latest newsletter likened the current situation to the disciple keeping 94% of the multiplied fish and loaves for themselves.   

Imagine Christ multiplying the five loaves and two fish  and the disciples keeping 94% for themselves. They'd be buried under stinking fish and moldy bread and that's what the church of America looks like today in the eyes of God..

We assume, like the clanging rich hypocrites that God has multiplied our assets so we can keep them, when in fact He has blessed us so that we may bless others.

 2Co 8:13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;
 14 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.
 15 As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack."

 2Co 9:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

Why were the Corinthians enriched? For all liberality, that is for the purpose of being generous and freely giving to others. That God may be thanked!

We've talked a lot about money today, but honestly that's only the surface of this account in Scripture, underneath it all is something so much more important than money. The money was only a reflection of attitude.  The widow's mite is not about parting with money, it's about parting with self.

The real question here is: What are you willing to give of yourself to the Temple? What are you willing to give of yourself to the Body of Christ,. What are you willing to give of yourself to Jesus? Only that which you won't miss? Only part of your life?  David said,

 2Sa 24:24 Then the king (David) said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing."


Are you ready to surrender your all? There was no partial surrender on the part of the widow was there? She gave it all. Anything less is pick and choose Christianity.

She gave out of her poverty.....her brokenness.......and God's ears perked up!

The order of the words here are important. She became broken spiritually, then she gave her all to the Temple....to Christ. She gave out of her poverty. Look what her poverty her brokenness drove her to do. She surrendered all she had to Christ. She had no dollar left for the dollar meal at Mcdonalds, she was broke, entirely dependent upon the Lord and that's where she chose to be!  

Don't give away your last dollar, that's not what this is about. Give away yourself.....every last part and chamber of your heart and soul....give it to Jesus.

Poverty may be a curse to some, but it can also be a great blessing, and for those who are listening to this sermon on the internet and perhaps have suffered some devastating financial losses in recent weeks....listen up.

Lenski says that poverty becomes a curse when it fills the heart with anxious care and worry, with murmuring and complaint, or leads to unbelief and dishonesty. It becomes a blessing when it compels the poor man  to cast himself upon God who has promised to care for His Children.”  

And this is what Jesus wanted His disciples to see, It's what he wants you and I to see it as well. He who will be rich toward God must first be poor in spirit. Oh beloved stop living on your own resources, your own cleverness, your own foolish ideas, and rather humbly cast yourself, every last part of you on Jesus.

It what the widow did and it's what caught His attention.

 Ro 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
If you have your Bibles with you today. Write this cross reference by this account in Mark, for it is the lesson that Jesus wants us to learn.