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Summary: Exposition of Mark 12:41-44 about the giving and the widow

Text: Mark 12:41-44, Title: Spiritual Economics, Date/Place: NRBC, 12/28/08, PM

A. Opening illustration: W. A. Criswell tells of an ambitious young man who told his pastor he’d promised God a tithe of his income. They prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making $40.00 per week and tithing $4.00. In a few years his income increased and he was tithing $500.00 per week. He called on the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now. The pastor replied, “I don’t see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income to $40.00 a week, then you’d have no problem tithing $4.00.”

B. Background to passage: this is Jesus’ final week, he has been teaching in the temple complex all day, answering questions and accusations with the sharpest counsel, and telling parables and warnings against the hypocritical religious people of the day. And it seems that at least somewhat that Jesus has ceased teaching, and taken a seat to rest, where He can see the offering buckets made of shofars (13). They were all labeled with signs for specific kinds of offerings, and most were attended by a servant of the temple who would inspect and announce gifts as they came into the treasury.

C. Main thought: Five observations about this event

A. Pride is warned against not knowledge (v. )

1. Jesus is watching people give, probably listening to the ringing of the coins and the announcers heralding and blowing the trumpets for large givers. But back in the Sermon on the Mount, he was saying not to let the right hand know…so which is it Jesus? Surely Jesus is not sinning by watching/knowing what people give! Don’t worry, He’s not. Knowledge of others giving is not condemned, but pride. Giving a lot and gaining the praise of men, that’s what is sinful. Giving preference to the rich over the poor.

2. Matt 6:1-4,

3. Illustration: 20% of members give 80% of all funds, 30% of members give the other 20%, 50% of members give nothing – ever!, me trying to send out a letter to the church body who doesn’t give…

4. American Baptists have it in their heads that there is some kind of sin involved in knowing what is given by others. Maybe we are overly cautious against sin and following the Sermon on the Mount? Maybe, we are ashamed about what we give? Maybe we have a heightened sense of fairness? Maybe we know that many church members are not mature enough to handle such knowledge without prejudice? I think it would be good accountability to make it known what people give.

B. Money is an important lesson (v. )

1. I guess this was one of those teachable moments that Jesus was always using. But He actually called the disciples to Him to teach this lesson. Don’t know what they were doing, but he stopped them when he saw the widow coming. Money is a key component in discipleship. It is a litmus test of commitment. There are over 3000 verses in the bible about the use of it.

2. Mal 3:7-12, Luke 16:10-13, Philip 4:17,

3. Illustration: Jason Boothby asking whether the tithe is off the gross or the net, J. D. Rockefeller said, “I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.”

4. We must not leave this component out of discipleship. We must submit ourselves financially to Christ’s leadership and lordship. Teach your children well about it. And don’t just deal with it on a surface letter. There are also applications here of warning, that if we take this lightly, we may be chastened, or miss blessings in our lives because of our lack of faithfulness.

C. Giving is sacrificial, proportionate, and by faith (v. )

1. NT giving is exemplified here in this widow, POOR widow. She was not expected to give more quantitatively than the upper class. She gave everything she had to live on. That was sacrifice. And it is also a deep abiding trust in God to take care of her.

2. 2 Cor 8:3-5, 9:6-8, Philip 4:19,

3. Illustration: “Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving” - Peter Marshall, tell the testimony of the SS girls going without dessert to save money for giving,

4. So we must steer clear of pride regarding amounts given. The language or tithing is not used often in the NT, WHY? The emphasis in the NT is not on a legal system, but on willing, cheerful, trustful giving. The NT didn’t want to have a limit to how little or how much, yet it still emphasized proportionate giving. The NT didn’t you’re your tithe to be another bill, but a sacrifice of gratitude. However Jesus did affirm tithing in principle to the Pharisees, but not in requirement. Most of us give what we really don’t miss. What has your giving cost you? What have you gone without in order to give to another? 10% good start.

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