With the Holiday season right around the corner so is the season of giving, which got me thinking about what the Bible has to say about the subject. Of course, we know that God encourages us to give and to help our fellow brothers and sisters but what should our giving really look like? I found the answer recently at church when we looked at the story found in Mark 12:38-44.
Mark 12:38-44, “In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.’ He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’ ”
This scripture starts with a warning from Jesus to not be like the scribes that go out of their way to be seen for their righteousness and strive to be seen for their giving. They wanted to be noticed for all they were doing and get credit for being God’s servants. The second part of the verse finds Jesus sitting across from the collection bin and watching the offerings that were being given that day. He notices many rich people give large sums of money but was most impressed by the poor widowed women who gave only two small coins equal to about a penny. Although she had not given much it was all that she had and Jesus used that as a teaching moment for His disciples and for us. It is in this passage we can learn so much about giving but it is important to remember that although this scripture is speaking to financial giving it also extends to all of the other areas of giving as well, such as our time and talents.
If we really want to learn about what our giving should look like we can take notes for this passage. In just this small portion of scripture, Jesus gives us two examples of giving, the scribes, and the widow.
Were seen as successful in the community
Religious authorities of the time
Giving to receive credit and to be noticed by others
Wanted to be honored on earth for all they are giving and doing
Will receive severe condemnation
Were considered the poorest in the community
Would have had little to no resources to study the Law of the Lord
Gave all she had to the Lord
Was not looking for anything in return
Will be honored in Heaven
The first lesson we can learn from these two is that our intent is more important than what we are actually giving. Are we giving to be seen or to gain something personally? Are we giving to the local church or charity organization so we can write it off on your taxes at the end of the year? Although our actions are pleasing to the Lord sometimes our attitude in doing so is in the wrong place. The second lesson we learn is that when we trust in the Lord in our giving we will receive all that we need in return. The widow understood this when she gave all that she had left to the Lord. We can also see this in 1 Kings 17:10-16, “In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, ‘Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.’ She left to get it, and he called out after her, ‘Please bring along a bit of bread.’ She answered, ‘As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’ She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.” In this story, we once again find a widow who understood that God would provide if she was willing to trust Him. They both gave all they had and trusted that God would provide. This brings up the question for us, Are we giving only the minimum or only what we can spare to remain our comfortable life or giving it all for God knowing He will provide?
I encourage you to keep this in mind all of this in mind this upcoming giving season and remember that it is better to have fewer treasures on earth and more treasures in heaven.