Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Sacrificial Generosity
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
June 13, 2010
How we see and use our money is so central to our existence, our lives revolve around it. We get paid with money, we buy things with money, we make decisions based upon money, our standard of living is contingent upon money, and the list goes on and on and on. We use it meet all of our needs and those wants we can afford. It can it can literally buy us almost anything and everything. That is why Jesus warns us no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; you cannot serve both God and money (Mat 6:24). If you love money you will hate God. Some of us here today hate God. To serve a master is to trust or put your confidence in them to supply all your needs or wants. That is a struggle for every one of us whether you want to admit it or not. Compared to the standards of the world, every one of us are rich (can meet your own needs). If you do not think that it is only because we have one of the highest standards of living in the world and we seek to maintain that standard of living. Worse yet, our culture is all about amassing stuff – amassing money, clothing, property, toys, investments, etc. Yet Jesus teaches just the opposite; Jesus teaches us to scatter and disperse our money to meet the needs of others. That I what we see here in this passage. It is a challenge to every one of us to be more sacrificial and more generous.
Big idea –God measures our giving by the size of the sacrifice and not by the size of the gift.
Jesus has had a long week. He cleansed the temple, he was challenged by the Pharisees – over his authority, then they try to pit him against Rome with a tax question, then he argues with the Sadducee s over resurrection, then he has just given a warning not to be like the Scribes and their people pleasing, greedy and rich life styles. He knows they are seeking to kill him. So he sits to rest and is looking down and as he raises his head he looks up to see the rich and religious putting their sizeable gifts into an offering box in the temple and then notices this poor widow, putting in a couple coins worth less than a penny in total. Anyone else watching would affirm and praise the rich and judge the widow but Jesus commends the woman, and her only, generosity and sacrificial gift. Wealth was a sign of Gods blessing and favor in the mind of the Jew. This comes from the Old Testament where God said that if Israel obeyed God they would prosper. But Jesus shows over and over again that they had turned this truth upside down and He taught that wealth was a sign of danger and not blessing because if money supplies all your need what is left for God to supply?
The rich gave out of their excess, their play money; she gave what she had to live on. They are putting on a good show but that is all it is, a show. Listen to what Jesus says about the religious leaders – they are lovers of money (Luke 16:14); they worship with their lips but their hearts are far from me (mat 15:8); and there fathers is the devil (John 8:44). Because they loved money they hated God, they were religious but their hearts were bent on evil; and they were children of the devil. In contrast the widow gave all she had to live on! Now if most of us saw someone do this, we would tell them that they were being irresponsible. But not Jesus; he commends her. And such radical acts of sacrificial generosity are not unusual in the New Testament. What we think is irresponsible the New Testament writers show as great acts of faith. Until we learn to give to God regardless of our circumstances we will never be fully committed to Christ and his Kingdom. God measures our giving by the size of the sacrifice and not by the size of the gift.
There is so much in the word about our finances and giving because God understands that we would find this such a difficult area of our lives to turn over to him. The proper use of Gods money is His way of raising people not mans way of raising money. I talk about money because I am more concerned with your heart than your wallet. Possessions are tools to further Gods Kingdom and a test of our heart condition. How we use of our possessions and wealth demonstrates materially where we are spiritually. Giving is Gods means of shaping our souls.