A Courageous Contribution (Mark 12:41-44)
When I first accepted this position, I received a great deal of advice. Much of that counsel was wise and good–I asked for a great deal of advice. Some of that advice was just wrong. One piece of unsolicited advice was: “Justin, don’t ever preach about money. People get mad if you preach about money. Just never mention it.” That advice might help some preachers make friends in some churches. But, it would never work here. The elders, deacons, and I have talked about the need to think about biblical giving. You know Scripture, you expect me to be faithful to Scripture and since Scripture speaks about giving, you expect me to speak about giving.
In the Gospels, Jesus speaks more about money and possessions than He does anything else; this morning, we want to explore one occasion where Jesus taught about money, where He talked about a woman who made “A Courageous Contribution.”
As much as each of us would love to give generously, there are tough times in life. I know that when we were looking for a congregation, there were times I would have loved to have been able to give more. The congregation where we were members had a special contribution every fifth Sunday. They would select worthy works and every dime over budget would be sent to help with those works. On more than one occasion, I wanted to give far, far more than I was able to.
I’m sure there are times you’ve given less than you wanted. Maybe you were unemployed, and you were saving every dime so that you could support your family. Maybe you had kids at home–braces, college fund, insurance, etc. Perhaps right now–for one reason or another–you don’t give what you’d like to give.
In this morning’s text, we meet a woman who gives far more than she’s able. She’s not concerned about eating; she gives all that she has. She’s not concerned how she’ll make it tomorrow; she gives all that she has. She’s not concerned about the things of this world; she gives all that she has.
She brings before God “A Courageous Contribution.” We learn an important lesson from this poor widow: “Courageous givers give more than they are able.” Let us go to Scripture to learn this lesson.
Scripture (Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus sat opposite the treasury and watched people putting money into the treasury. Along the walls of the women’s courtyard were 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles to accept the Jewish offerings. Obviously, putting money into these receptacles would make quite a racket. Remember, there isn’t any paper currency, no checks in the ancient world. The boxes were shaped specifically to cause a loud sound as coins are dropped inside.
Jesus saw that many who were rich put in much. That’s how it should be–those who make more should give more. Yet, it certainly seems as though they want to be seen. The desire to be seen was a big problem in Jesus’ day: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matt 6:1). We need to be careful that we don’t give to be seen by others. Sometimes people want to write a check, so that others know how much they give. The idea is that if they give big the church will need to cater to them.
A poor widow came and put in her two mites. This woman was “poor.” The Greek word refers to abject poverty. The idea is that this is a woman who is in imminent danger of starvation.
“Mite” in Greek is “lepta.” This coin had the least value of any coin in circulation at the time of Jesus. A mite was worth 1/64 of a denarius, the daily wage in Jesus’ day.
The woman put in both of her mites. Since she had two mites, she could have kept one for herself. Yet, she puts both of her mites into the treasury. There is very little this coin would purchase, and this woman’s contribution doesn’t even come close to matching the contribution of the rich folks. Monetarily, this woman really gave nothing at all. What she gave isn’t really going to help support a priest, it isn’t going to buy supplies to keep up the temple.
Mark stresses that this is an important lesson for the disciples. Jesus calls His disciples to Himself. He begins His teaching with “Verily” or “Assuredly.”
This poor widow gave more than all those who had given to the treasury. Everyone else gave out of their abundance–they weren’t going to miss what they had given. This poor widow gave everything she had to live on. This woman gave courageously. She gave every cent she had. She gave far more than she could afford. Someone has said: “The test of liberality is not what is given, but what is left.”
“Courageous givers give more than they are able.” This poor widow gave far more than she could afford monetarily. The Macedonians gave more than they were able: 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.
Why is courageous giving so important?
One: Courageous giving allows God to bless.
God blesses those who give courageously. “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses” (Prov 28:27). “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6).
In preparing this lesson, I thought, “I sure hope that poor widow was okay.” I quickly banished that thought. God has promised to bless; God is faithful. No doubt, but He greatly blessed this poor widow. God does not promise monetary blessings for our giving, but He does promise to bless.
Two: Courageous giving allows the church to function.
This church has bills to pay–a mortgage, a light bill, etc. Courageous giving allows the church to continue its existence.
Courageous giving allows the church to care.
There are times that we learn about needs in this congregation or the community. Courageous giving allows us to meet those needs. The church has always been full of folks willing to meet the needs of those less fortunate. Acts 2:44-45. Acts 4:32-35.
Three: Courageous giving allows the gospel to spread.
There’s a preacher to pay, missionaries to support, we spend a great deal on gospel meetings. Preachers are to be paid by the church: “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor 9:14).
How do we become courageous givers?
One: We budget.
We all have various expenses, and we need to be wise stewards as to where our money is going. We must make sure that God gets the “firstfruits” of our income. “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Cor 16:2). We are to lay aside as we prosper. How can we do that without budgeting?
Understand that your budget will tell a great deal about your spiritual health. Matthew 6:19-21. What does your budget/your giving reveal about your spiritual life?
Two: We trust.
God has promised to bless the generous giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
Even when giving makes no sense–there’s a mortgage to pay, a new car to buy, a kid to put through college–courageous givers know the promises of God. Courageous givers trust the promises of God. Are you trusting in the promises of God?