Last week we received a special offering at our church for Missions projects we feel God has called us to participate in this year. We called it a “Hands and Feet” offering because we believe we are commissioned to be His hands and feet around the globe and across the street. As the elder team received the initial report of the total amount given, we were blown away. In the first week of giving, we reached 93% of our initial goal. We give all of the glory to God and we are filled with such gratitude for the faithfulness of the people at TCC. As additional monies come in, I believe that we will reach our goal quickly and any excess will enable us to be able to send money to Haiti to purchase materials to help build a pastors home. Equally amazing is the fact that our regular giving to meet the needs of every other area of ministry was not negatively affected.
One of the things I have purposed through the years in ministry is to not look at the amounts people give to the church unless they are being considered for leadership. I don’t want to be tempted to treat people differently based on how they give. Having said that, I am only aware of 2 specific amounts given this week in our special offering. What my wife and I gave and what a dear lady who will remain nameless gave. The only reason that I’m aware of what she gave is because as we were receiving the offering, she made her way down front to me to ask me a question. She simply and sincerely asked if it would be ok if she gave 13 cents in the offering because after paying her bills that was all she had left. I was blown away by the question and didn’t really know what to say. I thought about my own life and it made me wonder, would I have the same charitable heart if I were in her same condition?
In Mark 12, Jesus and His disciples encounter a similar situation. Jesus made some hard statements about the condition of the hearts of many of the religious leaders of the time. Because of this, they are attempting at every opportunity to silence or discredit Jesus but he doesn’t back away from speaking the truth by any means. Jesus then sits down where he can see the area of the Temple where people would come to pay their alms. The modern day equivalent would be to give their offerings. Many rich people are coming in and giving substantial amounts. Imagine with me what this scene might have looked like. There’s an elderly woman, a widow, who Jesus sees out of the corner of his eye. She is heading toward the offering boxes and as she does he calls his disciples over to himself. He doesn’t want them to miss this. They are about to learn a valuable lesson. She reaches into her bag, scratching around, trying to find something to give. A smile comes over her face as she discovers 2 coins at the very bottom of her bag. They together are worth less than a penny in modern terms, but they’re all she has and so that makes them worth much to her. She takes them out and holds them tight in her arthritic hand so as not to drop them. She then saunters over toward the boxes and tosses them in without even a moment of regret. She lifts her hands toward heaven and begins to praise the Lord for her opportunity to give. Again, this is the TLV (Tyler Lynde Version) of the story but I think you get the point.
Jesus’ response to his disciples was amazing and instructive when it comes to understanding God’s perspective. He said, “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.” It wasn’t the amount that was impressive. It was the heart behind the gift. She gave sacrificially out of her area of deepest need. We don’t know the rest of the story for sure, but I would like to believe that somehow somewhere along the way she received a tremendous blessing from the Lord. One thing’s for sure, her reward was great in heaven!