Topic: Mark 12:41-44
Do you ever feel anxious when the collection plate comes around? Paul somewhat surprisingly tells us that "You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give." Not only that, but giving should be joyful, not forced: "Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus spoke more about money than almost any other topic. According to author Randy Alcorn, about 15% of Jesus' sayings recorded in the Bible relate to money and possessions. Why did Jesus (and the New Testament authors like Paul) speak so often about money? Perhaps because we seem to have so much trouble using money wisely. Thankfully, the New Testament gives us plenty of guidance.
In the story of the widow's offering, Jesus commends her gift of the equivalent of two pennies. She gave "more than all the rest." Paul clarifies that "If you are really eager to give, it isn't important how much you are able to give" (2 Corinthians 8:12). So, clearly the amount given is not most important. Then what is? It is our attitude towards giving.
Often, the Pharisees (the religious zealots of Jesus' time) tried in vain to trap Jesus with tricky questions. On one such occasion, Jesus' reply was "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21). So what portion of our money is "God's"? In a sense, it all is, since we have been given stewardship over our money. How much should we give to the church or other important causes? Paul answers this question thusly: "Give whatever you can according to what you have" (2 Corinthians 8:11). The widow did just that; she gave what little she could afford and Jesus approved of her.
Finally, note what Jesus says about giving: "Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired ... Give your gifts in secret" (Matthew 6:1,4). We are not in any way "saved" by our good deeds of giving: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Keeping your giving between yourself and God ensures you are giving for the right reason and won't become prideful. As Paul says, "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others" (Philippians 2:3).
Follow these biblical principles when giving, and you will be giving joyfully, as the Lord wills you to do.