Summary: Generosity is one of the characteristics of a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Mark 12-41-44 "Generosity"
We're rather shy when it comes to talking about money--no, that is really right. We are really scared when it comes to talking about money. We don't want to have people know how much money we have, how much money we make, or credit card balance, or anything that involves OUR money.
So, it is very uncomfortable and intimidating for us to realize that Jesus frequently talked about money and our relationship to it; and its influence on our lives. Jesus talked a great deal more about money than he did about heaven. A student of the Bible gets the impression that Jesus felt that one was much more important than the other. So, why all this emphasis on generosity and stewardship?
Mark did not record Jesus' reflection on the widow's offering so that it could be used in a Capital Fund Campaign. Paul didn't pen his offering instructions to the Corinthian church to help congregations with the stewardship programs centuries later. Stewardship of our blessings and generosity are integral parts of the abundant life and being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
MIRROR IMAGE OF GOD
When we see Jesus, we see God; Jesus is the clearest revelation of God that we have. As disciples of Jesus Christ, and people who have taken up Jesus' ministry (denied themselves, taken up their cross, and followed him) the people around us should see Jesus--God's love and grace--when then see us.
God gave--God gave everything in the person of Jesus. God did not hold anything back. Generosity has its roots in God. In his life, death and resurrection, Jesus demonstrated to us what it means to be generous.
The generosity of Jesus was imitated in the life of the widow. She gave all that she had; she held back nothing. Though monetarily speaking her offering was insignificant, symbolically her actions spoke volumes. As far as scholars can tell, the widow was not forced to do what she did and give what she did. Her generous actions were inspired and motivated by her passionate love for God. In response to what God had done in her life, she gave.
A WAY TO SAY THANKS
Generosity in the lives of God's people has always been a way of saying "Thanks." When the Israelites of the Old Testament hauled in their tithe of the first fruits of their produce, it was a way of saying, Thanks," to God for the blessings of harvest. Their offerings to people who were in need was a way for them to say "Thanks." As they cared for others, they were thanking God for the manner in which God cared for them.
The widow of our story had almost nothing. Socially speaking she was on the outside looking in. Because she did not have a male connection in her life at the moment, she was religiously limited in what she could do or experience. The widow does not seem to have viewed herself as poor. Instead, her action signifies that she considered herself blessed. The widow had the gift of life and she lived in the reality that she was a child of God. She responded with generosity.
Look around you; look at your life. God has richly blessed you. Even though times might be difficult for you and you have suffered loss and pain, still there is so much for which to give thanks. You have life and a relationship with a living, loving, gracious, powerful God. You have this family of faith--Desert Streams--who love you and care about you. You have food, clothing and shelter. You are richly blessed. Your gifts of time, talents and treasures are ways that you say "Thanks," for the abundant blessings God has poured into your life, for the new life you have in Jesus, for the calling that you have received, and for the way you can impact the lives of the people around you.
A STATEMENT OF TRUST
The widow in this story did not have anything left. She gave all she had to The Lord. In doing so, she demonstrated her trust that God would provide for her for the next day. We might say that it was a way for her to put her money where her mouth was. It is easy for people to say that they believe in Jesus and that God has them in the palm of his hand and that he is caring for them. But generosity is a way that people demonstrate that they trust that because of God's love and grace God will provide for them.
If we keep all of our blessings, we are more assured (at least in our eyes) that we will have enough for tomorrow and the days ahead. Generosity is one of the ways that we act out our faith. We are saying as we give our tithes and offerings that we believe and trust that God is able and willing to provide for us and to give us everything we need for daily life.