“He Gave Everything He Had… for You!”
Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text for this morning’s sermon are these words Jesus spoke in the temple: “Truly, I say to you, 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.”
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
“All gave some; some gave all…” On Memorial Day, we remember those who gave their very lives in the defense of our great nation. Today, on Veterans Day, Americans honor all veterans who served. They all risked their lives by signing a blank check, if you will. In their enlistment or commissioning, they agreed to risk being honored on Memorial Day as well – and so we thank all our veterans for their sacrificial service. Thank you!
In our Gospel reading for today, we find another example of someone who “gave all.” Now, she didn’t give her life-blood, but (as Jesus puts it), she did give “everything she had, all she had to live on.” He also points out that she was a widow – truly penniless. Now, if you can’t help but think “she must be daft” to give away her last cent, then I would remind you that:
I. Wealth has a way of owning its possessor.
A. Wealth can be a spiritual threat.
1. Trust in our possessions.
2. “In God We Trust” is a good reminder…
B. Poverty can also be a spiritual threat.
1. You can love money even when you don’t have any! Poor people can be at least as greedy and stingy as “the top one percent.”
It’s not money itself, but the LOVE of money that is the root of evil.
2. Poverty can make us Anxious and Envious, Grumble and Steal
Not this poverty-stricken widow! She trusted that God would take care of her.
C. How did Jesus know she was a widow and that was all she had?
1. Jesus is God, who knows everything.
2. How did he know about the widow?
The same way God knows you and your heart.
Our giving patterns reflect our priorities –
but God sees more than just our actions.
God sees our hearts; He knows what is motivating us to give –
or not give…
Even though God knows exactly how anxious and envious we’ve been – even though He has seen our dark hearts every time we’ve grumbled against Him…
II. The Lord freely gives us all that He has.
A. Jesus left his glory above.
1. 2 Corinthians 8:9a ~ “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor…”
2. Jesus, God the Son, traded his glory in heaven for a barn in Bethlehem “so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
B. He gave his all: Philippians 2:8 ~ “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.”
III. The more firmly we believe God has blessed us so richly…
The more firmly we believe that Jesus did all this for us,
for the forgiveness of our sins…
The more grateful we will be and the more generous we become.
A. Before we can even ask if we have to share,
we will find ourselves giving most generously.
Overflowing with love, because God first loved us – filled with gratitude for all the riches God has showered upon us, we can’t help but want to be generous to others. It’s our new nature to live to help others; it’s the clean heart God has created in each of us.
Now, that Old Adam will still rear his ugly head. Our lower nature still clings to us in this life. That old selfish nature still haunts us, so we listen to God for direction. We look in His Word to learn how we can best help others. In the Bible, God teaches us how to love. Today, He teaches us through the widow and two mites.
B. Here’s what God teaches us about stewardship in His WORD.
(Remember, we are just stewards of what really belongs to God. Even when we give 10 percent, we are still keeping 90 percent for ourselves – it ALL belongs to God!)
1. First-fruit giving;
I Corinthians 16:2a ~ “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper…
2. Proportionate giving: “…as he may prosper…”
Luke 12:48b ~ “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
II Corinthians 9:8 ~ “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” [“Blessed to be a blessing.”]
II Corinthians 9:11 ~ “You will be enriched in every way [Why?]
to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” [Done with “thanksgiving,” not begrudgingly, but gladly.]
3. Cheerful giving; II Corinthians 9:6-8, 11
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
This cheerful heart is constantly aware of how God has showered His blessings upon him already – and is still richly blessing him! This cheerful giver is so thrilled with what God has given her that she wants to share all she has – and not just money!
4. ALL: Time, treasure, and talents. Dedicate your very life to Christ (the Head) and His Body (the Church). He gave His life for you…
Conclusion: We certainly fail to follow Christ’s example of humility, service, and sacrifice. We even do a pathetic job of following the widow’s example, of imitating her absolute trust in God. We’re even more pathetic when we self-righteously try to mechanically imitate the widow by giving everything we have – at least, not without first imitating her faith. (Works without faith are just as dead as faith without works.) If you try to earn God’s favor by giving away some of what God has given you – even if you were to give your all to the church… If you are only trying to earn God’s favor by giving your all, you would only be like the self-righteous Pharisee. The poor widow was a real historic person; this Pharisee was a fictional character in a parable that Jesus told (Luke 18:9-14) to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Don’t try to earn God’s favor by giving more generously. Don’t waste your time trying to get God to like you. He already loves you!
Don’t put the cart before the horse! We do not love God first and then He loves us back. No! We love, because He first loved us – even when we were quite unlovable.
Rather than mechanically imitating the poor widow with her two mites, first copy the widow’s faith. First, imitate the widow and her absolute trust in God. Trust that Jesus Christ was not just our Example, but is more importantly our Substitute, the One who generously gave His all for us (“once for all”) – for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.
Because those two mites were evidence of the love in the widow’s heart, God looked at copper coins and saw gold. How does God see YOUR gift? Does your cheerful generosity inspire others to also trust in God, like the widow’s giving has inspired us and countless generations who have read and heard about her two mites? First, copy the widow’s faith, and the size of your gift will take care of itself.
Because God loved you enough to give far more than silver and gold…
Because God the Father loved you so much that He gave
His precious Son for you…
Because God the Son loved you so much that He gave
His all (everything he had) for you…
God freely gives you all that He has and you are already “Forever Blessed in the Presence of Christ.”
The peace of God, which is beyond our understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
[For our offertory song this morning, let us sing hymn number 783, “Take My Life and Let It Be.”]