Preachers often use the widow’s offering in sermons on giving to make the point that the rich often give in percentage terms very little, whereas the poor widow gave everything. It’s a true point. But not the point Jesus was getting at.
In the paragraph before He had pointed out the religious leaders who were in it for power and money – devouring widow’s houses. Then he points out the rich and the widow giving – in effect saying “Look see what I mean?” She is a perfect example of someone who was being devoured by the corruption of the religious leaders of the day.
So if you are a leader…
- Don’t walk round in long robes – Leaders shouldn’t lead for title, or prestige.
- Don’t grab the best seats – I love the story from the Cwmbran outpouring where the elders gave up their seats for some late visitors, who at the end responded to the Gospel!
- Don’t exploit the people – there’s a huge culture of celebrity pastors, big salaries and helicopters, especially in the States. And some pretty poor teaching to justify it and grab from the poor to fund it.
Have a look at what John Piper has to say on that one..
The challenge is that we are all, when it comes down to it, into some form of prosperity gospel – I’m sitting on a nice chair, in a nice house, with a nice computer typing this. It’s pretty easy for me to write a sentence that shocks “celebrity pastors with helicopters”, but the fact is we are all rich globally. And there are a lot of unreached people groups out there, struggling to survive and with no hope of eternal life, while I’m about to make a Latte. So I’m brought short as I hope we all are.
- Have a real prayer life – don’t pray long in public and short at home.
If you are rich…
- Give abundantly. Who allowed you to have that money in the first place? Sure you have worked hard, but don’t be like the guy who built bigger barns and then kicked the bucket (Luke12:16-21)
If you are poor…
- Give generously and faithfully, trusting God will see, God will use it well and know that you are storing treasures in heaven.