Measure of the Gift
Measure of the Gift
Words of Faith 1-14-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two tiny copper coins.  "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
As Jesus was addressing the problem of religious self-importance, He just happened to look up. For a time, He watched as the people gave their financial gifts into the temple treasury. These financial gifts were usually the tithes, a tenth of any income, returned to the Lord and used to support the ministries of the Temple.
These financial gifts were delivered into trumpet-shaped receptacles, probably made of brass. There were thirteen of these in the court of women. An officer of the temple would oversee the giving and would typically count what had been given.
Jesus observed that there were a lot of wealthy people putting in gifts. Then he noticed this widow who came with her two tiny copper coins. The tiny coins represented a fraction of an hour's wage in an economy that did not pay well at all. But she gave them nonetheless.
In response, Jesus said: "I tell you the truth this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
We can observe a couple of things here that are obvious.
1) Jesus watches. We make a big deal about privacy in church giving for a good reason. Jesus said we are not to give "to be seen by men" or that will be our only reward. But we would misunderstand if we think that no one is watching what we give. Jesus is watching.
2) Jesus knows what we give. Jesus knows exactly what we give. Not what we intend to give, or think we give, or hope to give, but what we actually give. Jesus knows. Jesus knows every detail of our checkbooks and charge cards. Do you think that He would bother to number the hairs on our heads and not concern himself with how we spend the provision that He gives to us?
3) Jesus knows what we have left. Jesus knows, after we give, how much we have left. Jesus was somehow aware that this woman gave all that she had to live on. We don't know the details, but it is hard to imagine that He did not provide for her in some way. Jesus knows if we give sacrificially or not. Jesus also knows if we spend an inordinate amount of His money on something else, and we are now complaining that we don't have money to give to the "temple treasury."
But this text is not really about giving. It is not really about money. It is about commitment. It is about one true measure of our commitment. The true test is not in the amount we give or serve or work or care. It is to some degree about the sacrifice. Jesus does not count, He weighs.
This gift was considered not in comparison to others but a comparison to the resources of the widow. In the Lord's economy, a gift is always weighed in proportion, not to other people-- but ourselves and what we have left. Her offering was sacrificial even though it was not large. Her spirit stands in stark contrast to the self-important religious leaders and the wealthy donors who made a great show or their giving.
Our commitment is not weighed in regard to the appearance of sacrifice but in true sacrifice. It is not about looking good, no matter how big the gift looks.
Some gifts may look big but are, in fact, very small. I have known people who gave a half million dollars to the church, but that was not a tithe or even close to sacrificial. I have also known people who made less than $10,000 a year who faithfully brought ten percent to their church each week-- and it was challenging to do so.
According to Jesus, if you were going to name a building after anyone, it would be the widow who gave all she had, not the large donor.
The same may be said for service. One person may give many hours each week to serving the Lord. But if the Lord has set that person free from other work and obligations of earning and family, that may not be a particularly sacrificial commitment.
On the other hand, someone who works a couple of jobs takes care of children or parents, and then gives one or two hours a week to help a neighbor or serve in the Sunday School, maybe giving an enormous offering of their time! Jesus weighs our commitment, based upon what He has given us and He always knows whether we have genuinely sacrificed or not.
Lord help me to be genuine and transparent in my walk with You. Help me not to take myself so seriously or to fall into self-importance. Help me to laugh at myself. Give me a sober judgment of myself. Show me what You desire in my life as a sacrificial gift of time and finances in Jesus' name.