Scripture: Mark 12:38-44
38 And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places 39 and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." 41 And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living."
Meditation: What is true religion and devotion to God? Jesus warns his disciples against the wrong kind of religion. In his denunciation of the scribes (the religious experts of his day), he warns against three things: the desire for prominence and first place of honor rather than lowly service for the benefit of others; the desire for deference and recognition (and seeking esteem from others) rather than seeking to promote the good of others through humble service and selfless care for others; and thirdly, attempting to use one's position (even a religious position) for self-gain and self-advancement. True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor with love, honor, and respect. The Lord puts his Holy Spirit within us that we may be filled with the joy of his presence, the joy of true worship, and the joy of selfless giving and love for others. True reverence for God frees the heart to give liberally, both to God and to neighbor.
Love is more precious than gold or silver
Jesus taught his disciples a dramatic lesson in generous giving with love and devotion. Love doesn't calculate - it spends lavishly! Jesus drove this point home to his disciples while sitting in the temple and observing people offering their tithes. Jesus praised a poor widow who gave the smallest of coins in contrast with the rich who gave greater sums. How can someone in poverty give more than someone who has ample means? Jesus' answer is very simple - love is more precious than gold!
Real giving comes from a heart full of gratitude
Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses most of its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is invaluable. The amount or size of the gift doesn't matter as much as the cost to the giver. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny - how insignificant a sum - because it was everything she had, her whole living. What we have to offer may look very small and not worth much, but if we put all we have at the Lord's disposal, no matter how insignificant it may seem, then God can do with it and with us what is beyond our reckoning. Do you know the joy and freedom of giving liberally to God and to neighbor with gratitude and love?
"Lord Jesus, all that I have is yours. Take my life, my possessions, my time and all that I have and use them as you desire for your glory."
8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all
9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.
14 But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.
17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
22 I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
"Although the spite of some people does not grow gentle with any kindness, nevertheless the works of mercy are not fruitless, and kindness never loses what is offered to the ungrateful. May no one, dearly beloved, make themselves strangers to good works. Let no one claim that his poverty scarcely sufficed for himself and could not help another. What is offered from a little is great, and in the scale of divine justice, the quantity of gifts is not measured but the steadfastness of souls. The 'widow' in the Gospel put two coins into the 'treasury,' and this surpassed the gifts of all the rich. No mercy is worthless before God. No compassion is fruitless. He has given different resources to human beings, but he does not ask different affections." (excerpt from SERMON 126.96.36.199)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible:
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from
the writings of the early church fathers can be
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