What Does God Want from Me?
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” 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. Luke 21: 1-4
Have you ever wondered how much you should give to the church? In this passage Jesus had a very different approach to explain what you should give to God.
In Luke’s Gospel, the religious leaders had just finished unsuccessfully grilling Jesus with ambush questions that sounded like today’s attack journalists. Jesus won the confrontation and then proceeded to condemn His attackers as people who performed their religious obligations for public recognition rather than sincere piety.
To illustrate his point, Jesus used a vivid example of people making contributions in the Temple. Normally, rich people who made large donations would be the hero of any kind of tithing story. After all, their large donations paid the Temple bills. Instead, Jesus made a point of praising the widow who made the smallest donation possible. Why would Jesus do a thing like that? It seems that Jesus was more concerned about attitude than the total amount of money contributed.
The rich were not praised because they apparently hadn’t really sacrificed anything in their offering. They still had plenty of money to stop at Starbucks or have a fancy lunch with their friends after leaving the Temple. Some scholars think the Temple contributions were deposited in trumpet like receptacles. Everyone could tell how much you gave by how much noise your money made rattling down the trumpet.
In contrast, the poor widow demonstrated her faith in God to provide by contributing everything she had. She wasn’t just going to miss lunch after Temple; she had absolutely nothing to keep her alive. Jesus finished the story by telling His audience that from God’s perspective, the widow contributed more than any of the rich people. Jesus seemed to be saying that God honored the widow more than all the rich contributors.
What does this mean to us today? What should we give to the church? The answer comes from an understanding of what God has already given to you. If you think about it, what do you have in your life today that didn’t come from God? For that matter, your very life is dependent on God giving you another day in this world. If this is true, we, like the widow, should be giving everything we have to God. This doesn’t mean you have to sell everything and give it to the church. It also doesn’t mean that you should give because a sermon made you feel guilty or because you want everyone to know how much you contribute to the church. God has given you everything in your life because He wants you to use it for His purposes. You don’t have to give it away, but you should be using it for His purposes rather than your own.
A few days after this story about giving in the Temple, Jesus gave everything He had in sacrifice for us at His crucifixion. If we understand Jesus’ example, our entire life, and not just our money, should be a sacrifice for God. I don’t think God will ask any of us to die for Him this week, but would we be ready to do so if He did. If you appreciate the gifts that God has given you in your life, ask Him in prayer what He wants you to do with the rest of your life. If you are very brave and faithful, go out and do whatever it is that He tells you.
-Dr. John Morris Professor of Christian Ministries
I pray that we will all ask, listen and then obey.