Sermon #55 Series: Mark
Title: Lessons From A Certain Poor Widow
Text: Mark 12:41-44
Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15
Date: Sunday Morning - July 12, 1998
Tape # U-68b
Why do you go to work every day? What is your purpose in working? It does not matter what kind of work you do. We live in a society that honors and praises professionals, whose jobs require a college education. Doctors, lawyers, politicians, and executives are usually the people who have influence in society, before whom others bow and scrape like groveling dogs. What a pity!
It is altogether proper that we give honor to whom honor is due; but we ought never to look upon one person with contempt and another with adulation, simply because of their different social status. It does matter not in the least where you work, or what kind of work you do. All honest labor is honorable labor. I do not care whether you work for minimum wages by the hour or whether you make a million dollars a week. If your labor is honest labor, it is honorable labor.
My question has nothing to do with the kind of work you do. I want you to consider only one thing - Why do you do it? What is your reason for working? In the Word of God, I find three things, and only three things, which should motivate believers in their labor. These three motives are very clear. There is nothing profound or mysterious about them. I hope none of you will be surprised by the fact that among these three motives for working, and working hard, there is not a word about gaining riches, getting more stuff, or increasing our social rank. Are you interested in Bible motives for work? Here they are. Three biblical motives for honest labor are…
1. The Glory Of God
1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Ephesians 6:5-6 "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; (6) Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;"
Colossians 3:22-24 "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: (23) And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (24) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
When we go about our daily employment, whatever it is, let us seek to honor our God in the work we do.
2. The Needs Of Our Families
1 Timothy 5:8 "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
It is the responsibility of every man to provide for his family. That provision reaches beyond physical things. We are also responsible to provide for our families spiritually. Every man is responsible to serve God as a prophet, priest, and king in his own house.
We ought to be motivated every day, as we do the work the Lord has given us to do, to do that work (whatever it is) to the best of our ability for the glory of God and the good of our families. But there is a third reason for working, a third noble, biblical principle which ought to be a high priority and motive to every child of God in his daily employment. You will find it in Ephesians 4:28. We ought to work, thirdly, so that we might enjoy the high honor and…
3. The Privilege Of Giving
Ephesians 4:28 "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."
Proposition: If we belong to Christ, if we are his servants, we ought to make the business of giving, open handed, open hearted, generous giving, a high priority in our lives.
There are many, many great examples of this kind of giving in the Word of God.
· David (2 Sam. 24:24)
· The Forgiven Woman (Mk. 14:3-9)
· The Macedonians (2 Cor. 8 and 9)
· The Philippians (Phil. 4:15-19)
I want us to look at the example found in Mark 12:41-44 in the time that remains. My subject this morning is giving. The title of my message is Lessons From A Certain Poor Widow. Let’s read the text together.
Mark 12:41-44 "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. (42) And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. (43) And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: (44) For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
There are few events in the earthly life of Christ more commonly overlooked than this, and few of his sayings which are less discussed than the one now before us. Our Lord saw “many that were rich cast in much”.
Without question, those who have more should give more. That is seldom the case; but it should be. Usually, the wealthiest people really give the least. And when they do give a little something somewhere, they have lots of strings attached and a bag of instructions!
Then, our Master spotted “a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Divisions: Let me call your attention to four things in this story. May God the Holy Spirit graciously and effectually teach us the things here revealed in His Word.
1. The Observer
2. The Givers
3. The Gifts
4. The Lesson
I. THE OBSERVER
Mark 12:41 "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much."
A. The first thing evident in this passage is the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no indication at all that our Master was informed by anyone about the wealth of the rich or the poverty of this woman. Yet, he who is the omniscient God knew everything about everyone before him. He knew how much each possessed, how much each gave, why they gave it, and what the circumstances of their lives were. I stress this fact because I want us ever to remember that he who gave his all to redeem and save us is himself the almighty, omniscient God. He who is God gave himself for us!
2 Corinthians 8:9 "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
Philippians 2:5-8 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
That Man who loved us and gave himself for us is himself our God. No wonder then that Paul, when he thought on these things, exclaimed, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”
B. Now, look at this - “He beheld HOW the people cast money into the treasury.”
He who is the omniscient God beheld everyone there, the rich and the poor. He beheld what they gave and why they gave it.
Let us ever be aware of this fact. Our God observes all things. He looks beyond what we do and observes why we do it. All things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
II. THE GIVERS
Mark 12:41-42 "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. (42) And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing."
I have only one thing to say here; but I want you to hear it. There are many in this world who are rich, very rich in material things, even rich in religious tradition, ceremony, and activity, who are poor, utterly destitute before God. And they are many very poor people in this world who are rich, infinitely and eternally, rich toward God, rich in Christ. Learn what that means.
· Riches, luxury, ease of life, and earthly exaltation are no indication of God’s favor (Ps. 73).
· Poverty, afflictions, and earthly sorrows are no indication of God’s disfavor (Job - David - Lazarus).
· Those who have Christ have all; and you who are yet without Christ have nothing. Without Christ you are without God, without promise, without grace, without mercy, without hope!
III. THE GIFTS
In the temple worship of the Old Testament, in addition to the tithe required by the law, those who were so inclined brought their voluntary gifts (freewill offerings) and put them in an offering box here called the treasury. These offerings were used in the maintenance of the temple and to supply the priests with those things necessary for the service of the temple and the worship of God. Though the worship of God had degenerated to nothing but religious ritualism during the days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, it was customary for people, when they entered the temple to put some money in the box. Many, we are told, who were rich cast in much.
But our Savior calls our attention to a certain, poor widow. She had only two mites to her name. And that two mites is what she put into the collection box. Now listen to what the Master says.
Mark 12:43-44 "And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: (44) For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Anyone who observed such an act as this, were this story not recorded on the pages of Inspiration, would declare that it was an inexcusable act of misplaced zeal. It would be condemned by all as an unnecessary, useless act of presumption.
· Unnecessary because God did not require it.
· Useless because her two mites were materially insignificant.
· Presumptuous because when she had given all she had she had not exercised any wisdom or prudence with regard to her future needs.
But the Son of God not only approved of what she did, he called his disciples’ attention to her gift, and said, Boys, this is what the Bible calls giving!
Though she gave only two mites, our Savior commends her gift as something both great and good.
· Great because it involved great sacrifice.
· Good because she gave as unto the Lord, for the glory of God, to the utmost stretch of her ability.
This poor woman’s gift, in itself was small, insignificant, even contemptible in the eyes of men; but it was highly valued and esteemed by the Son of God!
All that was given by the wealthy was given out of their abundance. It was just the overflow, the excess, what they had left over after buying all they wanted, throwing away all they wanted, and saving all they wanted.
· They gave a portion, but only a portion of what they had. She gave all!
· They gave out of their wealth. She gave out of her poverty!
· They gave and had much remaining. She gave everything she had. - All her daily sustenance!
· They gave out of a sense of duty. She gave because she wanted to give.
· They gave to be seen of men. She gave because she loved the Lord.
· They gave to get glory to themselves. She gave to the glory of God!
· They gave what they did not need. She gave what she very much needed.
· They gave their spare change. She gave everything!
I have heard men and women speak with a pretended modesty of giving their “two mites”. We have given our “two mites” when, like this blessed woman, we have given our all!
IV. THE LESSON
You will find the lesson of this story in 2 Corinthians 9:7.
2 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Give me your attention for just another minute or two, while I wrap this message up by answering three questions.
A. What motivates such giving as that which this poor widow exemplified?
Believers give, not by legal constraint, but by grace, not by force of law, but by the force of gratitude. Believers understand what the world can never understand. Why do believer’s give as they do? Because…
1. We recognize that Christ gave his all for us!
2. We realize that everything we have has been given to us.
1 Corinthians 4:7 "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
3. Believer’s love Christ, his gospel, and his people.
4. Believer’s understand that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.
B. Who should give
In the light of this story, I cannot imagine anyone asking that question; but just in case…EVERYONE OF US!
· Pastors, Elders, Preachers, Teachers - We ought to set the example in all things!
· Old and Young
· Rich and Poor
C. How should we give?
If you are interested in honoring and serving God with what you possess, I urge you to carefully study the chapters we read earlier - 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.
1. First, let us give ourselves to Christ.
2. Give purposefully, in proportion as the Lord has prospered you.
3. Give secretly.
4. Give cheerfully. “If there be first a willing mind…”
5. Give generously.
6. Give regularly - “On the first day of the week.”
7. Give for the glory of God, as unto the Lord.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive!” (Acts 20:35). It really is! May the Lord graciously teach us all to abound in this grace also, for Christ’s sake. AMEN.
 The fact of Christ’s divinity assures us of the certain efficacy of his work. If he is God, he cannot fail. If he can fail, for any reason, to accomplish what he desires or tries to accomplish, then he is not God!