And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. 3 And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
We believe (or are supposed to believe) that God will provide for our needs. But he has, hasn't he? He's given us the ways and means and talents and abilities to earn an income and purchase what we need, or make or grow it. So because He has provided for us in that way, why should we give from what little we have and then expect Him to provide more because we've given away what He provided for us in the first place? (I'm not saying I feel that way, I'm just saying that is one perspective.)
I admit that there are times where I have not given because I felt that we just couldn't spare it. I know that in comparison to a large part of the world's population we are wealthy, but when the bills come each month and there is barely enough to go around because some of your "wealth" you're still paying for (with interest!), it doesn't feel like you can spare it.
So here's what I think. It's something I suck at; I'll admit that right now. I really, really suck at remembering that it all belongs to Him anyway, and I need to use my financial means and possessions for His glory. I am REALLY bad at it. But I do know that in the past, when I have given faithfully, we have always had enough. Not a lot, but enough. It always seems when I hold back because of some expense that is coming up, there just seems to be less somehow. I can't explain it, and yet it seems to be so. And this past year I have been giving less because I told myself I needed to pay off our debt more quickly, and yet the debt doesn't seem to be disappearing any more quickly and in the last two months our income has been DRAMATICALLY reduced, so that will make giving AND repaying the debt even more challenging. So perhaps I need to keep in mind the old "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." (Luke 16:10)
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 21:5-7.
Tithing so often seems to be the first thing we cut out when things are a little tighter. I hate how that says stuff like TV, Internet, Tim's coffee, making extra trips to town, etc., are more important to me! But it's like you said: North American standards notwithstanding, we are extremely wealthy by global comparison. Our NEEDS are abundantly being met ~ it's our ability to distinguish our wants and our needs that's really being put to the test in these situations. And our contentment, too, I guess. And our faith that God really will provide.
Hmmm, never really thought of tithing as being one of those "faith exercise" kind of commands, but you know what, I think it is!!
Definitely a faith exercise! Love that perspective Miriam.
One thing I found interesting though was that both MacArthur and Chandler maintain that this passage actually has nothing to do with giving at all.
Rather it's an example of the "devouring widows' houses" from the previous passage. She gave the last of what she had to a religious system she thinks will save her, but is actually only taking advantage of her.
Chandler adds that the lesson for us (as we likely don't build religious systems that oppress the poor) is that we do not sin in a vacuum. When we sin and refuse to submit to God, and indulge in our own pride - there is always collateral damage to those around us.
MacArthur adds that it totally makes sense within the context. Jesus was just condemning them for their abuse of the helpless, when He witnesses an illustration of exactly that, and then proceeds to prophesy the destruction of the temple.
That does make sense. I guess since we have little idea of what the religious system at the time demanded of people in order for them to "earn" their salvation, we see it as the widow giving rather than the religious leaders taking when we read the passage. I may have to go and read that sermon now.
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