THE POOR WIDOW (Mark 12: 41-44)
John Paul Golla, Andhra Pradesh
As somebody said, "There are two marks of a Christian – giving and forgiving." Of course both are practical fields which are very difficult in practical life too. As apostle Paul quoted the words of our Lord Jesus which are not found in 4 gospels – "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Act 20:35).
There are many of our Lord's sayings which offer so much encouragement and correction for our life. I would like to say here that this widow was not poor, but a rich widow in the sight of God; we see here the spiritual poverty of others who gave and her material poverty.
From this passage we see there are 3 types of givers.
1). Jesus the giver – Total
2). Jews the givers – Tithes
3). Poor widow the giver - more than Tithes
Here we see three givers – each in a different sense, but in book of Proverbs, there are two daughters of the horseleach who were named "Give, Give" (Prov 30: 15) – they do not give, they always ask others to give.
Since we know that it is more blessed to give than to receive, let us learn blessed things from this incident.
I. Jesus the giver – Total
We know "God always gives and forgives, but man always gets and forgets". Though we do not see here that the Lord Jesus Christ gives anything, we see in v 41, "He sat opposite to the treasury" – near to the treasury. This picture leads us to the verses in Ps 40:7 and Heb 10:7 – He gave Himself as an offering.
There was a small boy who was 10 years old named Alexander Duff. One day he went to church, sat and listened to the word preached. The ushers had received the offerings in the plate and were standing at the rear of the building when Alexander got up from his seat and ran to one of the ushers and said, "Sir, put the plate low". Although wondering at the child, the usher obeyed him. Then Alexander stood on the plate and by that he made his commitment and said, "O God! I give myself in the offering".
How true this was in the life of the Lord Jesus – He offered Himself for us when He came to this world.
V. 41 - In the women's court against the wall, there were 13 offering boxes shaped like trumpets and labeled for their special purposes. 9 were legal dues and 4 for freewill offerings. In connection with this is also very much true with Christ. We read - Ps 40:7, "I come - it is written of me, I delight to do Your will". He did the will of God completely.
We see three places where our Christian life and responsibility are taken in the context of the Lord Jesus who offered himself for us and from these three instances we learn great lessons.
1). Galatians 1: 4 – our question on sin is solved by His offering
2). Eph 5: 1-2 – our sincerity is examined in the light of His offering
3). 1Tim 2: 6 – our sharing is challenged in the context of His willful offering.
We love Him because He first loved us (1Jn. 4: 19), Oh what a giving for us. Finally He said - "Father! not My will, Your will" – He emptied Himself. The perfect servant gave all that he had (Mt 13:45-46), God gave His only Son (Jn 3:16). He came according to the Law. We see here the rich men gave according to the Law.
II. Jews the givers – Tithes
V. 41 – Jesus saw how they were putting money into the boxes or treasury. Many were coming because it was the Passover season; the givers would be numerous. Jesus observes the manner of giving here. He watched the rich people dropping sizeable gifts in the treasury. Their giving was not representative of their sacrifice. They gave out of their abundance. "Give not from the top of our purse, but from the bottom of our heart."
Though everything is created by Him, for Him, through Him, yet He gave Himself in a humble manner. What a complete example to us in the manner of giving!
They gave according to their income and riches; they might have tried to give tithes. "God looks not the quantity of the gift; he looks at the quality of the gift." The Lord said, "She gave more than all" – actually she gave little. So what we see here that the importance is not on how much we give, but how much we have left for ourselves. There were 13 offering boxes – 9 legal boxes and 4 freewill offering boxes; I think the people might not have been giving into many of the freewill offering boxes. However, the poor widow gave two mites in one box, but God appreciated her. Matt 6:2 "Sounding trumpet" – this phrase was derived from throwing the coins into the boxes so as to attract the attention of people. V.41 "much" – Pharisees used many coins to make noise - O! what a noise, big sound, but let us see the silent offering of the poor widow.
III. The poor widow – the giver who gave more than her Tithes
She had only two mites, but she took the decision to give all her livelihood. She did not stop to consider what would be left back for her after this. The Lord Jesus observed and saw the poor widow giving – She might have thought nobody has seen her, but the Lord saw her contribution. The Lord's eyes were upon her giving. The Lord watches how we give (Mk12:41). He examines the motives of our hearts (Matt 6:1-6). He sees how much we give and measures the proportion. Real generosity gives until it hurts. The amount of money or the size of the gifts are not important, but the measure of sacrifice.
V.43 - "He called His disciples and told them about giving"
· If we are ready to be His disciples, He is willing to teach us these truths – Are you ready?
· What about our giving? We need to examine ourselves, not based how much we give, but how we are giving.
· Are we actually giving? There is a saying, “some people will bring a Hymn book or a prayer book, but not a pocket book to church."
From this article we see that the amount of money is not important, but the motive of giving money is important. "What I gave I have, what I spent I had, what I kept I lost."
One day a farmer was forced to sell all his things to pay his debts. People emptied his house and almost everything in the house was taken. When everybody left, he came to his empty house and noticed a text hanging on the wall. The only property that was remaining the verse on that was from Heb 1:11 "But You remain". Yes a whole hearted person survives when everybody and everything is taken because he has the Lord who remains.