Not for the Show, Not for the Dough- Stewardship 2

Thanks-In-Giving Sermon 2                           Mark 12:38-44            

– Your church council googled the average salaries for what a person who does your job makes per year and then cross referenced it with your offering statement.  Would you like to know what we found?  Btw- Jesus says, “unimpressed.”
– Quick Bible FYI- “Tithing” means 10% of our income, not something infants go through that leads you to rub brandy on
their gums…
– If you died tonight and stood before
Jesus and he asked you “how much did
you leave your church in your will?” what would you say?
– The good news… we have plenty of money to blow our budget away!
The bad news… it’s still in your pocket.

Friends in Christ.  If I ever use any of these in a sermon seriously, you need to whack me over the head with a cross!  I think that’s gospel motivation, right?!  As funny as some of these sayings may be there is no way that God would ever use them in church to properly motivate us in how we use the many gifts he’s given us!

Someone has said that 15% of the passages in the New Testament refer in some way to money, and that is true.  Whether it’s talking about giving, or not giving, government or church, attitude or action, Jesus speaks quite a bit about what to do with the gifts he pours into our lives- of time, talent, possession, and even money.  So according to God’s Word, it is not only good to talk about it, it’s encouraged.

Today we hear of a widow that teaches us the most important thing we need to remember when it comes to the way we use God’s gifts, here in this case, our money.  As Jesus teaches us through her, let’s take some time to examine our attitudes more than our gifts and see that when God speaks of money, it’s not for the show, it’s not for the dough- listen as Jesus teaches us about faith-filled giving, which leads in grace to faith-full giving!

       38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

       41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

       43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

The widow in our text for today stands in sharp contrast to the other people Jesus freely spoke of.  Jesus was sitting in the Temple treasury, a place where any worshipper would find 13 receptacles into which they could drop their offerings for the day.  In Malachi 3 God said, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. The Old Testament Jews were required to tithe- or give 10% of their income to God on a regular basis and trust that God would take care of them for the rest.  But our text wasn’t about the tithe, it was about the faith that did it, or the lack thereof!

There’s a bumper sticker out there that says, “Honk if you tithe.”  Judging from the surrounding verses, there were plenty of people that would’ve been laying on their horn in Jesus day!  So there was Jesus, sitting there people watching as person after person walked in a dumped a bunch of cash into these offering boxes. I wonder what his face looked like as the rich flowed their way in, taking out their purses, maybe showing everyone around how much was in them, and then with pride in their eyes and a heart filled with self, dumped what they had in and walked away reassuring themselves that they were better Jews than anyone else that came before or would come after- just look at all the cash they just dumped in there and sacrificed for their God!

Then Jesus sat up, maybe leaned forward, and cracked a huge grin as this widow comes in with no flowy robes, no shining rings, nothing to make her anything special at all, as a matter of fact she probably looks pretty sad, alone, and Scripture even calls her “poor” and you see her slowly, patiently, lovingly, with a smile on her face and a glimmer of faith in her eye put in her last 2 coins and give it all to God.  Which brings us to our lesson today- “Everyone open up your bank account and give it to Christ the King.  I guarantee you we will never have a budget discussion again and you’ll be just fine.”  That was the point of this account, right?!  Ooooh, Pastor Schwartz is getting snarky today, isn’t he?!  OF COURSE IT’S NOT THE POINT!

What’s one of the lessons?  Simple- If there’s a bumper sticker that says “honk if you tithe” and this woman had a car, there’s no way she would’ve touched her horn- because she was teaching everyone what giving was all about- not the show, not the dough- but the faith-filled heart that looks at what God has done for me and says, “How can I ever repay you?!  Oh, I can’t?  Fine, so how about this…”

Think of our other lessons… What a great one about Noah, right?!  Here’s a guy who’s been stuck in a boat with his family and a bunch of animals for 378 days and what’s the first thing he is compelled to do when he hits dry ground? Ask any survival expert what they would do and they would say one thing- shelter, you need shelter.  Is that what Noah did?  Did he build a house for himself?  Did he build a shelter for his family?  No, Scripture says, Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives… 20 and built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

The first thing on Noah’s mind was not the show, not the dough, it was expressing his gratitude to God for taking care of him and his family- it was building an altar to the Lord!  And what did Paul say in our 2nd lesson about the Macedonian Christians?  They exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us…

You want to know what led this woman today in her thoughts, words, and deeds?  It was remembering that before being a child of the tithe, she was a child of her loving Jehovah God!  It’s never been about the show or the dough- it is about a heart filled with faith that matters most to God!  So let that be your heart!

As Paul said, you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 

Paul made it clear to God’s people- I’m not commanding you anything…he said, I just want to see your faith- because I know where it comes from- your giving comes from what you already know- God  never gave his Son to make you rich, God sent his Son to make you forgiven.  And you are.  In Jesus’ life, in Jesus’ death, in Jesus victory over the grave, you are forgiven. REJOICE!

Does God talk about giving in His Word?  Of course, he does.  But he talks about Jesus first- and frankly, a whole LOT more.  Does God ask you to examine your gifts and offer to him your first fruits?  Of course he does.  But he gave us Christ, the first fruits of all who shall be made alive.  Does God have a formula for giving?  He does.  He says On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  But before we examine our total gifts, then set aside an amount in a regular, first fruit way, remember the greatest formula of all- 1 cross + 3 nails = 4given.  You are God’s forgiven child.  You are filled with faith in the Messiah who smiled upon this woman’s heart filled with faith, and was faithful to his promise to pay for the sins of the world and rise again on the 3rd day to fill our hearts not just with faith, but with joy and peace and forgiveness!

To Jesus, it was never about the dough, it was never about the show- it was always about you.  God bless you friends as you give thanks. God bless you as you think of your gift- being filled with faith in Jesus, and God bless you as you plan out the end of this year, and the year to come to be full of faith as you use all God has given you to His glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

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