Summary: By contrasting the scribes with a poor widow woman, Jesus teaches us about true devotion.
THE MARK OF TRUE DEVOTION
Text: Mark 12:38 – 44
What does it mean to be truly devoted to God? Does it mean that you are there every time the church doors open? Does it mean that you are the first to volunteer when there is a job to be done? Does it mean that you faithfully put 10% of your income in the offering plate each week? Jesus knew that His disciples and many of the people that He taught had an incorrect view of devotion. So, in order to clear up some of the confusion, Jesus contrasts the actions of the scribes with the actions of a poor widow woman. What He points out was shocking to those that were standing there listening, and it may be shocking to some of us here today.
Jesus pointed out first of all that a person that is truly devoted to God will trust God to take care of all her needs. Look at what He says about the widow woman in verse 44: “but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” This poor widow woman didn’t have much. She cast in two mites which were worth 1/64 of a day’s wages. This is all that she had. As a widow in the first century, she had no way of supporting herself other than begging. But, instead of taking the two coins and buying bread for herself, she gave what she had to God. How could she do that? She did it because she was trusting God to take care of her.
Listen to what Jesus said in another place about this. In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Last year I read the autobiography of a man by the name of George Mueller. George Mueller was a Christian that lived in England during the 1800’s. God gave him a burden for the scores of orphans that he saw there, so George founded several schools and orphanages for them. He raised millions of dollars to do this, but never once asked others for donations. He depended upon God for everything. Everything was paid in cash, and he never went into debt. Sometimes he would pray for a need and God would supply it immediately. Once, there was absolutely nothing to eat in the orphanage at all, but George insisted that everyone come to the breakfast table and thank God for what they were about to receive. As they finished praying, the town baker knocked at the door with a donation of free bread for everyone in the orphanage. George prayed about everything, from getting a boiler fixed at the orphanage, to a change in the weather patterns, to finding the source of a clogged drain. Any time there was a financial need, George went to his knees and told God about it, fully expecting Him to take care of it. God answered every prayer.
We look at devoted men like George Mueller and call them “heroes of the faith” but they are just ordinary people like you and me. The difference is that they have learned to trust God for everything. Could you imagine how much less we would worry about things if we just learned to trust God with them? This poor widow woman had learned to do that. She probably had no idea where her next meal would come from, but she gave what she had to the Lord, knowing that He would take care of her.