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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP
(Part 17)

THE WIDOW’S MITE - 2


November 25, 2013
Today’s gospel: Luke 21:1-4


As we move on to respond to the call to the New Evangelization, as the Lord actually opens up to us the way to massive evangelization, as He re-enkindles in us the spirit for worldwide mission, one critical aspect is the finances needed to do the work. In responding to God’s call, it is not just our enthusiasm, zeal, commitment, and willingness to endure hardships; it is also about our money. Much as we would like to just be borne on angels’ wings when we do mission, the reality is that we have to buy a bus or plane ticket. Much as our fulltimers would just as eagerly serve the Lord even without any remuneration, but they still need to eat, and for the married ones, to feed their families.

The truth is that whenever the Lord sends one out on mission, then He is committed to provide. The good news is that indeed the Lord sends us out on mission, and indeed He has provided, not just the grace and the empowerment, but also the money needed. The bad news is that this money remains in our brethren’s pockets and purses.

And so today we look at “a poor widow putting in two small coins” (v.2) into the treasury. What can we learn from her and this incident?

First, when Jesus “looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury” (v.1). Now there might be only a few of us who can be considered wealthy. But think again. The majority of people in the world are destitute, living on US$1 per day. Are you in that group? If not, do you have food and clothing? If yes, then Paul tells Timothy to be content with that, and warns that those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap leading to ruin and destruction. So do not say you do not have enough so you cannot give your financial contribution. What prevents you from giving generously to the church (in our case, to our community for its mission)? It is because we are thinking of our own needs and wants, and we give these priority.

Second, Jesus did not stop the poor widow from giving her small offering, knowing that “she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (v.4b). The widow chose to honor God by offering whatever she had, and that to Jesus was what was more important. The widow had chosen the better part. How often do we excuse ourselves by saying that we need the money for food and basic needs, for our family? Jesus knows what we need, and he did say that if we seek first the Kingdom of God then we would be provided all things as well. Do we in fact deprive ourselves of more blessings when we deprive God of what should go to Him?

Third, compared to the wealthy people, the widow put in more. Jesus said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (v.3-4). A wealthy man who gives 1% of his income, compared to a poor man who gives 10% of his income, may have given more in terms of actual money, but has actually given less. Wealth comes from God. A tithe is a return to God of what actually belongs to Him, for His use. What we give is not a matter of generosity on our part, but rather, an act of justice, to give to God what is His due, and to enable the Church to give to God’s people what is their due.

Fourth, giving is supposed to be sacrificial. The wealthy people did not even notice the big offerings they gave, as these were insignificant compared to their wealth, coming from their surplus. But for the poor widow, what she gave came from her poverty. It is what we are willing to give up that truly matters. We must give until it truly hurts.

Fifth, the poor widow, in giving up her whole livelihood, was putting herself at the mercy of God, fully trusting in His care and provision. When we withhold our financial contribution, because of what we think are our own needs, then we are depending on ourselves and not on God. Now that is always folly. It is not we, but God, who provide. And know that God can do a much better job of providing than we ever can.

So when you make your financial offering, what would Jesus be seeing? Would he see one who withholds his tithe and thus see a thief and is thus accursed? Would he see one who withholds his generosity and thus see one enriching himself at the expense of God and His work, and thus falling into temptation and a trap, eventually plunging him into ruin and destruction? Would he see one unwilling to put his whole trust in God and His promised provision?

When you decide on what to give back to God, know that what amount you decide to give says a whole lot about yourself, and your whole relation with God.

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