Surplus or Sacrificial
Dec. 7th, 09
Luke 21:1-4 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of the
m. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
This 21st chapter is largely taken up with discussions about Jesus’ return, and the signs we ought to note in preparation. I’m sure I’ll spend some time with some other parts of this chapter, but this morning I was struck with Jesus’ actions in the Temple. He was watching the rich people drop their gifts in the collection.
We live in a part of the world, and in a time when the overarching philosophy of giving seems to be: “don’t let the right hand know what the left is doing!” I don’t buy that. According to this passage, giving might be personal, but it is not private! Jesus was intentionally watching what each person put in. He was observing closely enough to see that the widow’s mites were the smallest of the Jewish coins, and probably could, by contrast, observe what the others deposited as well. My observing this closely what people put in the plates would probably get me fired, but I think the point must be made. It is not for me to watch and judge what people give to God, but apparently Jesus makes it his business! He commends and exalts the widow’s faithful action…and by contrast is being judgmental for what the rich people share.
I’m not ready to jump on the Socialism bandwagon just yet, but one cannot deny that Jesus repeatedly preached and taught that: “to whom much has been given, much will be required.” We’d like to think that verse applies to our talents or our gifts, which it does, but I think it applies to our wealth too. Jesus is making an obvious point that to be a follower implies that we give accordingly like the widow…”everything she has.”
And don’t you find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t go over to the box and remove the widow’s mite and return it to her (with interest), and don’t you find it interesting that he doesn’t take other money from the plate and give it to this poor woman, this poor widow? He seems to be saying that none are exempt from giving to God, neither the rich, nor the poor. There is much food for thought in these few verses, but for me today, it is a reminder that all I have (and all I am) belongs to God. I must give – because God gave!