Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pentecost 24 - Proper 27

11 November 2012
Mark 12:38-44
Jesus is present – even in our giving

O God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that, being ever mindful of the end of all things and your just judgment, we may be stirred up to holiness of living here and dwell with You forever hereafter;

This sermon is a hard one to write, difficult to deliver and will be a challenge for you to listen.  Jesus will pull at your hearts, and cut to the chase concerning your attitude toward money. You can’t out give God and you will never, ever, no, not ever- give more than this woman - because she spent everything!

Jesus is sitting across from the offering boxes and observes the gifts being given. He calls attention to the widow’s penny in contrast to the million-dollar gifts of the rich. She gave more than any other because she gave out of her poverty while others, gave out of their abundance.

Jesus is present where His Word is proclaimed, shared, read. He is present when and where the Sacraments are administered, hymns sung, and prayers said. But He is also present where money is given for His kingdom work. Such giving is a holy activity, which Jesus willingly observes. He observed two things on that day in the temple - that many gave much, and yet, this poor widow gave the most.

  1. He sees that must is not always the most.

A.      We may be among those who give much money to the church. (v.41) Large sums make possible the expansion of the church’s work. Large sums may well be given from a cheerful heart and for the right reasons.

B.      Yet, we are not the most generous givers if we have merely contributed out of our abundance. (v.44)  It won’t do to say that we lack an abundance of money and things. We still are rich if we have more than we need to support our body and life. Even large amounts are given merely out of abundance if they in no way force us to cut back on a life-style consisting of gourmet food and drink, expensive trips, and costly but unnecessary possession.

Giving out of our abundance requires no sacrifice on our part. Jesus sees how much we give, and that much is not always the most. Large contributions do not in themselves make us the most generous givers.

  1. He sees that the most involves sacrifice.

A.      The widow gave voluntarily all that she had. She had very little – “two mites” (KJV), “two very small copper coins, worth on a fraction of a penny” (NIV) – which she needed desperately. A widow was almost always poor because she had no husband to support her. There was no insurance policies, no death benefits plan, no Social Security. Because she was extremely poor, she could have been excused from giving to the Lord’s treasury. She should have been given something from the treasury.  Now she had nothing left with which to buy even a piece of bread. Yet Jesus knew she would be taken care of by God, in whom she trusted. She had given more than all the rich people put together because she had given her whole living (vv.43-44). Her gift proved that she was not poor spiritually. She had the riches of faith in God to motivate her. We have no right to call our grudging little contributions “widow’s mites.” Do such contributions represent all that we have?

B.      Jesus moves us to give voluntarily and sacrificially.  By reminding us that He willingly gave His all, His very life for us. He left heaven’s glory and became poor for us. He freely bestowed on us forgiveness and clothed us in His own righteousness. By renewing our minds through Word and Spirit so that we give first ourselves and then our money as thank offerings to Him (2 Corinthians 8:2-5; 8:2-5; 9:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2)  By pointing us to His ample provision of all our needs (Mal.3:10; 2 Cor. 9:8; Phil.4:19)

Jesus sees how much we give and that the most involves sacrifice.  We are among the most generous givers when, regardless of the size of our gifts, we contribute sacrificially for the work of Christ’s church.

Jesus is not dependent on your gifts. Yet He has arranged to carry out His church’s work through people like you! That’s why He is interested in how much you and give and encourages you to give sacrificially.

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