Summary: A sermon on giving from the heart and freedom from relying on money.
Have you seen the movie “Brave Heart?” If you have, do you remember the scene at the very end of the movie? They have finally captured Mel Gibson and have begun torturing him so that he will renounce his will to fight the king and stop leading the people in revolts. As it nears the end, they ask him to just say the word and they will stop and let him go. Instead he screams with his last breathe FREEDOM! Maybe you feel the exact same way about your financial life. Maybe the burdens of keeping the bills paid and making ends meet have become a life absorbing problem. Everyday that a new bill comes, dread sweeps over you and all you can think about is trying to find a way to pay it before you owe late fees. The medical bills have begun to pile up and with the new electric rates rising like never before, you don’t know how your family will make it. Next thing you know your kid gets hurt and your car breaks down and then for some reason your company downsizes and you have no job left. Wouldn’t you like some freedom from those pressures? Wouldn’t it be nice to find some relief from those trials?
There is a story told of a choice men could make between a firing squad and a big black door. No one but one man knew what was behind it. “An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?" The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad. Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice."
The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?" "Freedom," replied the general. "I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it."...”
Sometimes it may feel as though we have but one choice, to stand in front of the firing squad known as our bills and take it. The other option has to be one of the scariest options known to mankind; the big black door which Mel Gibson screamed about at the end of Brave Heart, freedom. This big black door can be found in the story of the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44. The scene is set in the temple courts with the offering bins out for the people. Each one in his or her own turns walks up to the offering plate and gives how much ever they want or desire. Jesus sits on the edge of the court watching and waiting to see what the people give. His disciples sit all around him observing as well. This story sets the example of finding freedom in our finances. We can find freedom thru good stewardship of our finances. The big black door in our lives is that of being good stewards of the money God has given to us. Giving back to God a portion of our finances is the beginning to a life free from the shackles of money. Take a minute with me to examine the story with me and let’s see who really had freedom. What really made the difference in this story?
The Story (v. 41-44)
Let’s read through the story so that we have a good understanding of what is being said.
“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, :Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
It’s Not the Amount that Matters
The widow gave about one whole cent in comparison to the thousands of dollars the wealthy had given. Jesus himself says that “…this poor widow put in more than all the others…” Their amounts by far were greater. Jesus was thoroughly enthused by the fact that the widow was so willing to give of her only possession. Her bills had extinguished all reasonable finances if you can call trying to survive “bills.” She sacrificed even in her deep poverty to provide for the Lord’s work. The Pharisees had plenty of money, a nice home, plenty to eat, and great respect where ever they went. Men looked at the outside and what seemed so important; an amount. The men of Israel wanted a king so badly and so God let them choose a king and they chose Saul. He was tall and handsome and must have been kingly. Men looked at the outside of Saul and his seemingly good intent and made him king. Saul as a king soon became a failure as he let his own ambitions in the way and soon began to ignore God’s guidance completely. They made the same mistake in both cases; looking at an amount. They only saw the outside of the issue and never realized that it takes more than an appearance. The Pharisees sure had a good appearance with all they gave but it meant nothing to God for them to give of their abundance. They were just showing off. If they wanted to give, they should have done as the widow did. If the rich would have given sacrificially, it would have been all the same regardless of the amount given.