This week Ms. Stephanie had the honor of delivering the story about the widow’s offering. This story is located in Luke 21: 1-4 and Mark 12: 41-44. This is a story most people are familiar with. Jesus pulls up a seat across from the treasury at the temple and watches different people offering their tithes. The thing we have to remember about this is, this became a huge spectacle. Wealthy people would come in and make this huge ruckus as their coins clanged and fell into the box. People would stop and watch to see how much was given. This became quite the spectacle for people and those that really put bunches in were lauded for their charity.
Into this scene an old destitute woman enters and drops two small coins. Jesus stops the show to point this out for the disciples with him. This old lady may have only dropped two small coins, but it was all she had. She gave 100% of her wealth to God. The wealthy that gain great advantage from the spectacle of people watching them drop bunches of coins are giving from their abundance. The wealthy do not even feel the loss, while this lady has demonstrated great faith in God to provide by giving all.
This is a great story. I am thankful we have it two thousand years later. I wonder how it is we have failed to learn its lessons? Some of the things we discussed as a group in no particular order:
- Giving sacrificially involves more than money, we have talents, possession, time etc and we need also to give of these.
- In last weeks sermon I mentioned how the week has 168 hours, churches ask for around two and many, if not most people, balk at that. Meanwhile people watch television 20 plus hours a week among the many other time wasters. There is a disconnect between having an active faith that recognize Jesus as Lord over everything and our desire to keep God on the edge as available only when necessary.
- This woman provided a great demonstration of her faith and reliance upon God to provide.
- The amount we give is not the point of giving, are we willing to trust God?
- Where is God in our life? #1 or floating among the other things we have going on.
- It is a great story and just imagine the blessing God gave to this woman. She has her own story, told the world round, and she was as poor as poor could be. What a wonderful blessing!
We veered over many other topics based on this story.
For instance, we do not pass a plate at Catalyst Baptist Church. We have an offering plate, it sits in the corner and has offering envelopes next to it, but we do not pass the plate. I have a friend that is supposed to make me a nice wood offering box that will go near the door. I cannot wait to get it. No one will see anyone give, it will just be between that person and God.
I consider passing an offering plate coercion and intend to never pass one outside of special offerings; things like visiting missionaries etc. We have all been to churches that pass the offering plate every time they come together. This is not what we do. As a pastor I have always found this intolerable. Do we bring in less money every week because I do not coerce tithes out of members and visitors? I am sure we do, but I want people to tithe because they want to, as a demonstration of their faith and love of God, not because I have put a plate in their face to pressure them through shame if they don’t.