Religious Obligations

“Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all…”

– Luke 21:3

Giving is commanded, and great lessons are learned from the widow and the two mites. Money in the Bible is a “fan favorite.” Giving is a popular topic in the pulpits of the United States. We, as pastors, may have beaten this sermon horse to death. Knowing the state of our flocks, we should consider refreshing them from a different bank along the same stream of Scripture. We should consider Paul’s wisdom when he said, “you have no need that I should instruct you again.” Otherwise, we may continue “bringing skeletons into the pulpit and producing cadavers in the pews.”

As Jesus observed all those waiting to deposit their offerings into the treasury, he made some keen observations. The Lord shared with the disciples how much each person gave and what they held back. Notice, though, Jesus gives no commendation or condemnation. “We should not assume,” writes R. Kent. Hughes, “that He disapproved of all the offerings of the wealthy. Very likely, there were some who had noble motivations.” Many of us assume Jesus was pleased with the widow’s gift, but Christ never acknowledged that. John MacArthur supported this outlook and wrote, “Such interpretations also assume that Jesus was pleased with the widow’s gift, which He does not state or even imply. Further, she was giving to a false, apostate system, not honoring to God.”

In His final days, Jesus was deeply burdened with the state of Jerusalem. He came to set them free, yet they were trapped in religion and false teaching. Priestly greed overshadowed the cheerful giver. The treasury chest became a noose of guilt that brought spiritual asphyxiation. It had become a system that defrauded widows of their houses (Mark 12:40). It is possible that the widow standing in line to give all she had further broke our Lord’s heart as He watched apostate religion consume the minds and hearts of His people. What does He see in our hearts today?

“The New Testament gives no authority for tithing. Christian giving is a far less mechanical obligation. Gifts are relative. Legalistic tithing systems, indiscriminatingly pressed by some churches, take no thought of this.”

– E.M. Blaiklock

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