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: seeking to promote and draw
attention to oneself rather than looking for ways to lift up and
encourage others; seeking honor, favors, and privileges for
oneself rather than selfless service and generous giving for the
welfare of others; and thirdly, attempting to use one's position
and status (even a religious position) for self-advancement and
True religion is relating rightly to God and to one's neighbor
with love, honor, and respect. The Lord Jesus puts his Holy Spirit
within us so that we may be filled with the joy of his presence,
the joy of true worship, and the joy of selfless giving and loving
care for others. True reverence for God frees the heart to give
liberally, both to bring greater glory and honor to God and to
love and serve one's neighbor with a generous spirit and merciful
heart. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with wisdom, knowledge, and
understanding of his great love and care for you, and his desire
to work in and through you for his glory and for the good of
Love doesn't calculate
Jesus taught his disciples a dramatic lesson in giving freely and generously with unreserved love. True love that is given without reservation or condition doesn't calculate or hold back - it spends lavishly and gives generously! 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 plenty? Jesus' answer is very simple - love that is pure and generous is more precious than gold and silver!
Give with a gracious and generous heart
Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart - the inner core of our being that freely chooses to share and give what we have and not hold anything back. A gift that is given unwillingly, with a grudge, or for mere display loses its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and goodness 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 for herself, but instead she wholeheartedly (and maybe even daringly or 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 might look 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. The Lord takes the little we have to offer and he multiplies it for his glory and the good of others. Do you know the joy and freedom of giving generously (liberally) and unreservedly from the heart to God and to neighbor?
"Lord Jesus, all that I have is yours because your love surpasses all that I could hope for or desire. Take my life, my possessions, my time, and all that I have and use them as you desire for your glory."
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul!
6b LORD who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign for ever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Mercy and compassion are never worthless, by Leo the Great, 400-461 A.D.
"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 188.8.131.52)
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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