by Steven Chan
Jesus made an interesting observation when He saw the worshippers making their contributions or offerings in the temple:
“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury,2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21: 1-4)
“Who gave more?” some may wonder. The worshipper who gave RM1,000 or the one who gave RM10? Still others may say, “It does not matter”, so long as one gives something cheerfully.
Jesus answered that question in Luke 21:1-4 when He said that the “poor widow who gave two mites”, “put in more than all”. He explained it by observing that the rich gave out of their abundance but she gave “out of her poverty”. Plus, she “put in all the livelihood that she had”.
We learn the following:-
- It’s not the “absolute amount” that one gives that determines whether one has given more to God. It’s relative to what God has blessed us with. If God has blessed us with more, then more is expected of us. In Luke 12:48, the Lord said: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
So, in I Cor 16:2: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him”. In other words, one is to give in proportion to how much God has prospered him. A bible student has noted that “all church history testifies that the early church took up weekly collections on the first day of the week.” From the practice of the early Christians in Acts 20:7, it is apparent that they met on the first day of the week. It is when the Christians come together to worship God, that they made their weekly offerings.
So, not only are our offerings to be given on a weekly basis (upon the first day of the week, I Cor 16:2) and cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7), it should be done purposefully (2 Cor 9:6) and in proportion to how much God has prospered him (1 Cor 16:2).
- Everyone who is prospered by God ought to be able to make an offering to God even if it is only “two mites”.
Jesus did not say to the poor widow: “There’s no need to give; after all, there are many rich worshippers who have given much. We do not need your “two mites””. In fact, He was pleased by the sacrificial giving of the poor widow.
In Luke 16:10, Jesus said: “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much”. Whether one is blessed with five talents or two talents or even one talent, he is expected to use it so that God may prosper him. We are stewards of the manifold grace of God and we ought to use them to minister to one another for His glory (I Pet 4:10).
When the Israelites were not giving as they were required by God, He said to them in Malachi 3:10: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
The poor widow showed her trust in God by “giving” as much as she did. God does not require us today to “give one tenth” of our earnings or to “give all” but we need always to remember the following:-
- God owns us regardless of whether we are rich or poor: I Cor 6:19-20: “19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who isin you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a]and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Also: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1).
- God expects us to be liberal givers as His faithful stewards in doing every good work: 2 Cor 9:6-7: “But this I say:He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So leteach one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
- God is “able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things,may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8). The Psalmist testifies thus: “I have been young, and nowam old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” This does not mean that one would never be in hunger for the Apostle Paul wrote thus: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.” But Paul learned to live under all circumstances by relying on Jesus Christ: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me” (Phil 4:11-13).
- Giving out of one’s poverty and beyond one’s ability is a commendable example for Christians to help fellow brethren who are in need, as recorded in 2 Cor 8:1-5:
“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive[a]the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”
They were obedient to the command to love one another. So, in I John 3:17-18 we are warned about what is required of us if we profess to walk in love: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
Let us learn to be faithful in all that God has entrusted to us, to be faithful in using our blessings to help one another, and all for God’s glory (I Pet 4:10-11).