In last night's blog post, I referred to the widow in the Bible who Jesus praised for giving what she had. As a follow-up, I want to share an article that my daughter Betsie wrote for a website that Betsie writes for weekly:
Two Pennies And Four Quarters by Betsie Joy MacLellan
Two Pennies And Four Quarters by Betsie Joy MacLellan
“Will you be taking up offering tonight?”
It was a Thursday night in the hood, and my mom had just finished leading a Bible study in Galatians when she was asked this question, “Will you be taking up offering tonight?” The lady who had addressed my mom was one of our neighbors, and we know her well. She is over fifty years old and walks more than four miles several times a week to attend our Bible studies and church services at We Will Go Ministries.
She doesn’t just attend our Bible studies and church services, though. No, she arrives early to every single one so that she can serve us. It is not at all an uncommon sight to see this precious lady hefting four bags of canned goods through our houses as I trail behind her, attempting–and failing–to catch up while staggering underneath the weight of just two. She is a saint.
So here we were, A normal Thursday night in the hood. My mom had just finished leading a Bible study in Galatians when our sweet neighbor asked if we would be taking up an offering?
“We usually do that on Sundays, but I can take your offering now if you want,” my mother answered.
“Please,” our neighbor said as she opened her hand and held out four quarters.
When my mom recounted this moment to me, I started crying. I immediately thought of a similar scene that took place over two thousand years ago. One day, after Jesus had finished teaching in the temple, he quietly sat down opposite the treasury and watched, unnoticed, as people put their money into the offering box. He witnessed many wealthy people drenched in finery and mock humility make a show of tithing large sums before the crowd. It was a competition to see who could give the most while the most people noticed. They had perverted the righteous act of tithing into a farce. For them, it was no longer about giving to the Lord, but rather building up their own name.
But who was this? In between the parading Pharisees and Sadducees, a poor widow woman clothed in rags made her way quietly to the treasury box. She did not call anyone’s attention to herself; rather, she was ignored and overlooked. She was content with this, though, for when she withdrew two small copper coins from her pouch, she desired only God as a witness.
After she had dropped her humble offering into the treasury, she left just as silently as she had came, unnoticed, or so she thought. One had noted her sacrifice, and He quickly brought it to the attention of His scattered disciples as He called them to him. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
When we give, God does not look at the amount. He looks at its worth to us. If Bill Gates gave $200 to dig wells that would provide sanitary water for families in Africa, that would be awesome and help a lot of families in Africa. It would not make a dent in the mountain of cash he has accumulated, though.
However, if I, a senior in high school who works a minimum wage paying job, gave $200 to dig wells that would provide sanitary water for families in Africa, that would be awesome and help just as many families in Africa. It would also completely clean out my entire bank account. $200 is almost all I have to my name. $200 is everything I have. Where Bill Gates could drop two one hundred dollar bills and not even miss it, giving up two one hundred dollar bills would require sacrificing everything I have. There would be nothing left.
Our sweet neighbor shares a house with three other people. Her room is the living room where she sleeps on the couch. She doesn’t even own a wardrobe or chest of drawers to keep her belongings in. Plastic grocery bags lined against the wall are her substitute. To her, four quarters is her everything. It’s her best.
Now, there is nothing wrong or un-Biblical with Bill Gates giving $200 to dig wells that will provide sanitary water for families in Africa. In fact, Mr. Gates, sir, if you have $200 you are just dying to blow, I have a brother who is in desperate need of funds for the mission trip to Swaziland he is taking this summer. That’s not what I’m talking about, though. What I’m saying, and more importantly, what Jesus said, is that it’s not about what you give, but rather what you withhold.
Only giving in your abundance does not change or affect your life. Neither does giving everything you have. No, when you give everything you have, it does not merely change or affect your life, it becomes your life. Selflessly sacrificing your own so as to meet the needs of others will not be something recreational you do, but rather it will be who you are. Mother Teresa once said, “At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made [or given away], how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread–but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing–but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for a want of a room of bricks–but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.”
So what if you gave the girl who was kicked out of her house directions to the shelter when you have a perfectly fine spare room in your own house? So what if you offered the homeless man by the bus station the part of your footlong you were too full to eat when you have a fridge filled to the max with food beginning to spoil because you can’t eat it all? So what if you gave the inner-city ministry your old holey socks when you immediately go and buy yourself a new Juicy Couture minidress for $348.00? You might as well not even give the inner-city ministry your old holey socks. The Lord knows they don’t want them, either! An offering is not an offering unless you have to sacrifice something to give it.
1 John 3:17-18 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” But in deed… The definition of the word “deed” is “an action that is performed intentionally or consciously”. It’s an action. I don’t know what this verse looks like to you, or how the Lord would have you live it out, but I do know that it does not and never will look like withholding.
To read more of Betsie's articles and those by other website contributors, visit: http://faithmadeflesh.com/