The twelfth chapter of Mark’s gospel stopped me in my tracks, and it did so both hard and abruptly! Mark 12:41-44 recalls the event in which Jesus instructs the disciples in what true giving looks like (might I say… sacrificial giving). The scene is a familiar one. A poor widow’s seemingly valueless offering is contrasted against the large sums of money deposited by the rich. Most would applaud the rich for their abundant giving while overlooking—even begrudging—the widow’s offering. However, this is not so with Jesus. In an unforeseen outcome, Jesus says the widow’s offering was more than all who gave before her. In essence, Jesus instructs the disciples that it is not the amount given, but what that amount cost the individual to give. In the case of the rich, they gave with ease because they could afford to do so. The widow, however, gave in faith because she could not afford to do so.
Let’s think about this scene for a minute. Is Jesus really teaching on how to give a monetary offering to the synagogue/church? Or… is Jesus taking aim at a deeper issue by introducing it through a sensitive and familiar issue? I think the latter. Granted, we should give monetarily for the advancement of the kingdom of God (we are commanded to give), but I think Jesus has in His sights a far weightier issue. I believe Jesus is challenging our commitment to and trust in God.
This event introduces us to a slippery slope within Christianity—only doing what we are comfortable with. Stated differently, we all struggle with aspects of worship that are neither natural nor easy to us. Some have the financial room to give exorbitantly with ease but will refuse to pray out loud. Some will share their faith with a stranger but not their neighbors or family. Some will sing praise all day long but never read the word of God. Some will show mercy, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to the hardest of people outside the church but will severely judge those in the church. Some will preach in the church but not witness outside the church. I could go on and on, but I want us to see that within all of us is the temptation to only do for God what we are comfortable with or can easily accomplish. That is, there exist within me a desire to limit the amount of faith I must place in God in my service to God.
You see, to do what God commands of us means we must place all of our trust in God. We must give all to God just as the widow did. Don’t get fixated on money here, the point is bigger than our checkbook. Many of us will never see the awesome work of God simply because we do not trust Him. We are afraid of messing up, so we don’t witness to those around us. We are insecure in our knowledge, so we don’t share or participate in our discipleship groups. We don’t think God will work, so we don’t dedicate ourselves to prayer. I believe the point Jesus makes is clear—GOD WANTS US TO GIVE ALL WE HAVE TO HIM! In fact, this is EXACTLY what Jesus says in Mark 12:29-30!
Let’s land this plane with this question:
HOW AM I HOLDING BACK FROM GOD, AND WHAT DO I REFUSE TO GIVE TO THE LORD?
How we answer this might reveal to us where we are breaking faith with the Lord. I hope this helps you to draw close to Jesus Christ today!