HOW TO GIVE
This has been a very long day for Jesus. It has been a day filled with religious leaders confronting Him and trying to catch Him in what He was saying. They were trying to ruin His popularity or get Him arrested. And the first group that came to Him were the chief priests, the Scribes and the elders questioning His authority, who gave Him the right to do what He was doing. But before Jesus answered them He gave them a question, which they refused to answer because it would expose their hearts, that they were more interested in their position than acknowledging the truth that was right before their eyes. So they left, not diminishing the following of Jesus, but their own by not answering the question that Jesus asked them.
Then the Pharisees and the Herodians teamed up, even though they did not get along with each other, they had opposing views, but they came together to get Jesus. And they proposed a question to Jesus regarding taxes. And it was a great question, because either way that Jesus answered it, either yes or no, He would lose. So Im sure these guys felt they got Him! But Jesus answered them in a way that they didnt even think of. He said to give to Caesar that which belongs to him, and give to God your life! A very wise answer that silenced these guys and so they left, defeated by Jesus.
Next on this list were the Sadducees who didnt believe in the resurrection, and so they proposed a question regarding the resurrection. And Jesus shot them down telling them that they were deceived, misguided, because they didnt know the Scriptures or the power of God. And Jesus takes them back to the Scriptures to show them that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living! He IS the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not WAS! And once again they went away defeated, shaking their heads wondering what they could do to catch Jesus. They could not believe they lost this one!
Then a Scribe, listening to all Jesus had to say, recognizing the wisdom of Jesus answers, asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment. And Jesus answered him by saying the greatest commandment was to love the Lord with your entire life, your entire being and it is out of that relationship you are to love your fellow man. And this Scribe recognized that it wasnt outward actions that God is interested in, but a persons heart. He was close to salvation, but we are never told if he made it in by coming to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And the people were silenced, no one else dared to question Him trying to catch Him in His words.
When they were silent, Jesus spoke out of the Scriptures and pointed to the fact that David, in Psalm 110:1, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, called his Son Lord, and a father would never do that. And Jesus was trying to get them to think, He was saying that David was speaking of the Messiah, the Son of David was going to be more than just a man, He was to be God incarnate. And the people rejoiced over this while the religious leaders once again said nothing.
It is after this that Jesus blasts these religious leaders for their hypocrisy. And in Matthew chapter 23 we are given more details, all that was going on in their hearts, all the evil, all that was covered up by their religious activities. It was an empty faith, a faith that was just for show!
And so it is still Tuesday, part of that long and tiring day, and we will pick up our study this evening in Mark chapter 12, beginning in verse 41.
1. Why did Jesus sit down? Maybe He was tired, it was a long day. And Jesus sits down in the court of the women, which was the farthest court out from the temple. This was as close as women could go. Even the gentiles could go farther in. And this was the place where the treasure was located, against the wall of the court of the women.
And this treasury consisted of 13 trumpet-shaped containers, made of brass, to collect the various offerings and contributions for the temple. And Jesus sat there watching "how" people were giving to the Lord. We like to get our praise from fellow man,, "You did such a nice job!" or "That was a large donation brother or sister so-and-so!" But, as we are going to see, the praise from men is meaningless. They look at the outward, and God looks at the heart. And that is what Jesus is doing here as He watches the rich and the poor give to the Lord.
2. The idea, of course, is "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." And you can see where the heart of man is today. In a 1984 study on gambling, they found that Americans will spend 177 billion dollars on gambling and only 30 billion dollars on charitable donations. And Im sure that right now, the amount spent on gambling has gone up significantly with the Lotterys and river boat casinos as well as the other casinos. It shows the heart of man, more interested in self than others. Storing up treasures in this world that will only be destroyed. And it shows, in this study, the heart of man that for the most part would be unseen!
3. Now in the Greek the word "put" or "cast", this verb, is in the imperfect tense, which tells us that Jesus spent some time sitting there and watching how people were giving to God. There were lots of rich people coming by, bringing their servants with them, and as these servants opened these money bags and began pouring in this money, what do you think happened? All that noise caused the people to turn and see who was giving all that money to God. It must be truly a holy person to give that much, or so they thought.
Now understand that there is nothing wrong giving to God if you are rich. The real question is "Why are you doing it?" You see, are you seeking to receive glory from men by your actions, or are you giving back to God that which is already His? It is a matter of the heart!
4. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus shows us or tells us the proper attitude to have in regards to spiritual things. He is speaking of the motivation of your heart. Beginning in verse 1 Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." Matthew 6:1-4.
That is how we are to give, with a cheerful heart, not shouting from the rooftops, but quietly giving to the Lord. And you might not get praise from men, but, like we see here in Mark as Jesus is sitting down and watching those who are bringing gifts to God, He is watching us as we give.
5. One last point before we move on. Giving to the Lord is not limited to money. It also speaks of our time, our talents, our entire life given over to Him as a living sacrifice. And the idea here is just the same. Are you doing these things to receive praise from men or from God?
1. Now you could easily pick a widow out from the crowd by the clothes she wore. When I was growing up my grandmother wore black for years as a symbol of mourning over the death of her husband. And in Israel, it was very similar. Also, they had no source of income because women didnt work. They were left on their own to scrape for themselves and it was a very difficult and lonely life.
2. Now picture in your mind what is going on here. The rich were making all this noise placing large amounts of money in these trumpet-shaped containers. Everyone was watching them. Then, very quietly a widow comes and gives two mites, which were very thin and most likely made no noise at all! These two mites or two lipta were equivalent to 1/64th of a denarius and a denarius was the daily salary of a working man. So what she gave was practically nothing, not very impressive at all, or so it appeared.
3. Now the thing I want you to notice is that she came to give to the Lord, and who was watching her? The Lord! Isnt that great. God does watch us even when what we do, what we might give, seems so insignificant. And she did have two of these coins, so she could have kept one for herself, but she didnt. She gave it all to the Lord, the one she loved so dearly. And even though the crowds were silent, Jesus is cheering her on, He is clapping for her because He saw here heart, He saw "how" she gave!
1. Jesus was so moved by what He saw that He called for His disciples to come so He could teach them a important lesson. When it comes to giving there is so much confusion today. How much do we give? Do we have to give? Let me give you two main points that apply to giving for they overshadow everything else.
2. The first point is "How do you give?" In other words, what is the motivation, why are you giving? You see, acceptable giving comes from a heart of love. In II Corinthians 9:6-7 Paul tells us "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." We are to give to the Lord but not grudgingly, not out of compulsion, being forced into it because if you dont give the ministry will shut down. But we are to give out of a cheerful heart. You give whatever you want because you want to, no one has forced you into it!
3. The second point is this, "How much did it cost you to give to the Lord?" For the rich, it cost them nothing. For this poor widow, it cost her everything she had. In II Samuel chapter 24, God tells David through the prophet Gad, to "...Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." II Samuel 24:18. And David went ahead, and came to the threshing floor of Araunah and in verse 20 we read "Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Then Araunah said, Why has my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people. Now Araunah said to David, Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king. And Araunah said to the king, May the LORD your God accept you. Then the king said to Araunah, No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." II Samuel 24:20-25.
Araunah wanted to give not only the land but everything, even the sacrifices to David. But David refused this because he recognized that when you give to the Lord, if it costs you nothing, it is meaningless. And so David, like this widow, was willing to make a sacrifice so that he may give to the Lord something that cost a price.
As we close this study this evening, what have you given to the Lord? Why are you giving to the Lord? And has it really cost you anything to give to Him? I encourage you to meditate on these things and that you truly desire to give to the Lord your entire life. Not because you are forced to do it. Not grudgingly. But out of a cheerful heart because you love Him and you desire to give back to Him what He has given to you, to be used for His glory.