"Motivated to Give"
The motive of the scribes in why they gave and what they expected was very different than the motive of a nameless widow who had only two coins. What motivates us to give?
Motivated To Give
A. His persona was impeccable. When we read his story in Matthew, Mark and Luke we come away with a picture of a young man who was very religious and deeply spiritual. A man who was a ruler, but yet knelt before Jesus. A man that wanted more, in fact wanted eternal life and sought Jesus for the answer. Jesus liked this young man. In fact the Bible says that, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him” (Mk 10:21). So, what’s the problem here? Look deeper into the encounter with Christ.
B. Jesus listed several commandments. In fact, the commandments he listed were the ones that deal with people to people ( like “do not murder, do not steal, honor father and mother…”) Jesus didn’t mention to him about the commandments that deal with his relationship with God (like, “no other gods before me, or keep the Sabbath …”). That’s clue #1. But there is more. This man says that he has kept all these people to people commands that Jesus gave. So Jesus tells him what is lacking in his walk with God. “Go sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mk. 10:21)
C. We found the problem. Maybe this man did have some god before Jehovah and he didn’t realize he was breaking that commandment. We are told that this young man was became disheartened, and was very sad because he had great wealth.
D. When Jesus speaks to his disciples he talks about how difficult it is for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Their response, “Then who can be saved?”
E. On the outside the rich of look like everything is wonderful. Many who are less rich are jealous, envious and covetous; believing they should have some of that money. No wonder Paul told Timothy, “The love money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
I. The Heart of The Giver
A. So we opened our Bible up to the book of Mark and listened as God told us about a time when Jesus watched people give. Isn’t that a little odd? It sounds out of place. Who should know how much I give to this church? Is it your place to decide if I give enough or too much? But we find Jesus sitting and watching. Let’s dig into this a little.
B. Mark and Luke tell this story in almost identical words. Our story begins (READ Mark 12:41-42). This is not a story where Jesus is upset because people don’t give enough. This is not a story about how rich people are bad and poor people are good. This is a story about the heart of the giver.
C. Giving is personal. To give anything is, to some degree, a sacrifice. You could have kept the money and spent it on yourself, but you chose to give it some cause, person or activity. God looks deeper than simply how much you give, he looks at why, what motivates you to give.
D. In this situation we are told very little about their motive, but we can gather some information through what Jesus says to his disciples (READ Mark 12:43-44). The difference between the rich and the widow was their trust in God. How much money this widow made in a week, we don’t know. Let’s deal with what we do know. Could she make more? Probably, but she first gave to God. That’s heart of the giver. It is one who sees God at work in this life and joins Him. They put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
II. Lessons Learned
A. I want to offer a few lessons we can learn from this text and others like it. The first is, don’t be a show off when it comes to your giving. Jesus could tell from a distance about how much they were giving. That’s not very private.
B. In both Mark and Luke, the verses right before this text point to this idea (READ Mark 12:38-40). To be fair, he could also see how much the widow gave, but Jesus knew more than the amount. He knew the heart.
C. Jesus offered a warning very early in his ministry about our giving. (READ Matt. 6:1-4) In many churches people make assumptions as to who give more than others. In some cases, the ones that are perceived as being “bigger givers” are catered to or allowed to let their opinions hold more weight than other. That’s wrong.
D. The second lesson today is God deserves more than your leftovers. This widow gave out of her poverty while the others out of the abundance. They gave out of their “abundance.” The idea is that of excess, or that which doesn’t really affect how they would live their life. They could give generously and it not really impact their lifestyle. The difference is this widow gave all that she had.
E. God is worth more than just my leftovers. There was a time when King David, in his old age, numbered the people and it so upset God that God offered him three forms of punishment. An angel came and with him brought a plague upon the people of Israel. 70,000 died and as he stretched out his hand towards Jerusalem, God stopped the angel. The prophet God told David to go and build an alter at the place where the plague stopped. When David arrived, the owner was willing to donate the land to King David, but David said these words, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24)
A. God is less impressed with how much you give as He is your heart when you give. I come back to the opening story of the rich young ruler. What was in his heart? It wasn’t sacrifice. It wasn’t making God first in his life. He wanted more but wasn’t willing to pay the price.
B. This widow saw God has first in her life, beyond what physical blessings she had. Giving was simply an expression of heart. What about you? Let your giving be motivated by your love and devotion to God, then all these things will be added unto you.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister