BIG IDEA: The greatness of the testimony has nothing to do with the size of the gift.
SERIES: The Most Important Question Ever Asked – A Study in the Gospel According to Mark: John Mark, a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter, wrote this gospel. We trust his writing because of that tie to Peter, an Apostle of Christ. He writes this gospel by taking down Peter’s account of Christ. It’s written likely because the Apostles were aging and their stories needed to be told for the coming generations. These are essentially the memoirs of Peter written to a group of Christians in Rome, and it’s written with a sense of urgency. Jesus came to accomplish a mission and to do so with a remarkable sense of urgency. Throughout the entirety of the gospel, there is the most important question ever asked: Who do you say Jesus is? Fist gospel written.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 12:41-44
41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 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.”
Over the next several weeks, we will jump around the gospel according to Mark instead of continuing our chronological journey in order to address what we’re calling the Heart of Generosity. We’re going to take a look at what it means to be generous and to steward our finances well.
When Sideris started in 2014, we embraced a financial model where external supporters of our mission would provide start-up capital and pledge ongoing financial support over our first three years as a church. We envisioned a model where these external donors would diminish as the population of Sideris grew both in number and generosity.
For 2017, our goal was to support 70% of our budget through internal giving. As we project our internal giving through the end of the year, we may be shy of that goal (somewhere around 65%). Because we always envisioned being a financially self-sufficient church by the end of 2018, we are hoping to see the continued growth of our internal giving over the course of the coming year.
- Context: During the last week of Jesus’ life, he visited the Temple every day, debated with the teachers there. During one of those visits with his disciples, he witnesses this widow who puts into the offering box two small coins.
- A Puzzle: This moment and Jesus’ commentary on it was likely very puzzling to his disciples in the same way that it likely is for us, too. We see that Jesus is trying to validate this widow’s gift, but we don’t believe that her gift was actually greater than the gifts of those wealthier than her. How could it be? We might even say that the Temple doesn’t need such a small gift.
- The Lenses of Personal Sacrifice: Jesus asks both his disciples and us to view giving through the lenses of personal sacrifice. He’s asking us to shift our perspective on giving. He proposes that the smallest gifts create more kingdom potential than the monetarily largest gifts.
- The Currency of God’s Kingdome is personal sacrifice, not dollars and cents.
- Normalizes Giving: Jesus normalizes giving across all socioeconomic classes by declaring all gifts measure by personal sacrifice. They’re all measured the same way.
- Jesus exemplifies this for us: The part of Jesus that was fully man, was fully poor, too. Scripture tells us that Jesus was a man “…with no place to rest his head.” He was essentially homeless, and so were his disciples for at least the three years that they followed him. They relied on others to feed, clothe, and house them. They changed history.
- Christianity itself is about personal sacrifice: Jesus’ followers chose to leave all they had and follow him. That’s the great question of our faith: will you give up everything and follow Christ, are you willing to personally sacrifice? Christianity doesn’t halt when wealth runs dry; it halts when personal sacrifice runs dry.
- Kingdom Economics
- Kingdom Economics encourages those who are in poorer circumstance. The widow’s mite tells us that your gift is important. It’s needed in the Kingdom of God.
- Kingdom Economics challenges the wealthiest to see their gifts as more than a lot of zeroes. It challenges us to question how much you’re actually sacrificing.
- Special Deception of Wealth: Don’t be deceived into making money just to give it back to the church. There are great intentions behind this, but it’s not about dollar amount. Don’t attach kingdom potential to dollars and cents. Don’t chase wealth for God. He doesn’t want your wealth; he wants you.
- Foolish Giving: Many would look at the widow in this story and say that she was being foolish, unwise, because she clearly needs the money to live on, to support herself.
- Stop and ask: Where does the wisdom of dealing with our finances come from? We’re bombarded with a lot of messages about money and how we should or should not spend it. And sometimes we take it as wisdom.
- Jesus’ Wisdom Ethic: Jesus celebrates the widow creating a deficit in her life. She gives to the point where she has to depend on God to provide for her. Are you giving to create a deficit in your life where God has to show up? This goes against all of the world’s wisdom.
- Foolish giving brings about the Kingdom of God in radical and powerful ways.
- Jesus’ gift of his life was insignificant and foolish on the surface, but it led to a huge kingdom potential and power!