|Luke 21:1-21:4 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)|
What makes you uncomfortable to talk about? Money is essential our society does not function with out it.
When we set up our priorities, When we look at our timetables we do so with an under lying belief, a hidden voice at the heart of us speaks which shapes and influences how we respond.
I would like to say that voice is the voice of Jesus, but more often than not it is the voice of economics,
Money talks it speaks into our every facet of life.
Money is power. Lack of money cuts us to the bone
Too much money and we believe we can live a happy life.
Economics is the unavoidable still small voice that probably all of us listen too. The tragedy is that the voice that should speak to us about our priorities is the voice of God. Maybe that is why the average Kiwi, the average western person, the average Asian person does not like to talk money morning then with raw skin bared we will consider.
Probably one of the reasons we don’t like to talk about it is because economics is at the heart of our society, everything we do turns on money . Money talks but we don’t like to Talk about it in New Zealand
Who was she?
In the society the needs of the widow were often overlooked – but God singles them out for special attention – they were outcasts. If there late husband’s family did not look after them then no one would. Begging or prostitution were realistically the only options for survival
No welfare, no pensioner flats, no hope – We often associate the widow with being old but lets not forget – that Ruth was a young widow
What was her gift?
Everything, she came before God and gave everything
The Show of giving
It was good to be seen giving. Giving was a spectator sport it was done in front of everybody, there was no secret envelope numbers, no black bags that you could conceal your offering in There was no paper money so the more noise the more you were giving, chance are there was a lot of ooohing” and “aaahing” over the size of the gifts. Then comes this woman, perhaps with head bowed, seeking to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Trying to be unnoticed, she places her pittance in the offering chest. Do you suppose there was “ooohing” and “aaahing” when she made her contribution? I believe so. Not from the crowd, but from Jesus. He was excited about her giving.
He was excited about what she gave - all she had - and also about how she gave - with a heart toward God. She gave everything – and it didn’t even make a sound in the temple collection – it would have largely gone unnoticed by earthly eyes – but Jesus noticed and because Jesus noticed the sound of these small coins echoes through history.
Giving all she had was foolish
Just listen to the still small voice inside you, what does sit say about the actions of the widow?? Chances are if it’s driven by economics then it would say she was foolish. When you think about it giving all she had, And by giving all she had she was becoming even more dependant upon other, She was even more of a burden to society and here family (if she had one)
In an economic sense what she was doing was suicide
She may as well have took her won life because to give away what she had was to basically sign her own death wish. We are talking about a society where people did die on the streets
But apart from that she was giving the money to the one institution that she probably shouldn’t of given it to.
A few verses earlier, Jesus has dragged the Teachers of the law over the coals for what? Cheating widows Ripping them off .
Now we live in an age of financial accountability where every cent is audited, - even in Churches. The times here were different they were probably somewhat corrupt. The offerings were to be used for the poor, or at least that was what they were intended for. But it is clear that they were in fact being used to fund the expensive lifestyle of the scribes that Jesus.
The people Jesus has been having a go at were also the people that controlled where the treasury went to
She was giving money to those who were ripping her off.
So not only was she making her self a burden And giving the money to the institution that was ripping her off
Is that still small voice in side of you telling you that she has lost the plot. But is the voice of Jesus also saying that what she did was a beautiful act for God - -If it is then you have a tension.
The thing about tension is that when it exist something must give, These two voices cannot coexist, You must listen to one or the other. What I want you to do is ignore the voice of financial reason and listen long and hard to the voice of Jesus
The widow choose a new way to live.
So what is going on here? I guess in giving everything the women is doing something that we are all called to do. To become ultimately dependent upon God. She is sacrificing all to follow God, Funny that but that is exactly what Jesus says we all have to do. In Luke 14:33 you cannot be my disciples unless you give up everything.
Mark 8: 34, If any of you wants to be my followers, you must dent yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
Now that little voice of economic reasoning probably wants to explain away these verse, and all the other hard sayings about Jesus. But that is precisely what many people now and in the first century are called to do. When they make decision to follow Jesus they are forced to give up social ties, economic support of extended families in order to follow Jesus. If they listen to the still small voice of economic reason then they can’t follow Jesus. This poor widow represents the Christian church of a large proportion of the world. Jesus pointed to the self-giving of the widow as an example for all Christians to follow. Here in New Zealand that is not an issue
We can have our cake and eat it, we can follow Jesus and not have to give up our social ties, our family connections
We follow Jesus and no one is going to want to seize our finances.
The Still small voice of economic reason can speak loud
Because it is challenged by any external forces of society
But it is still being challenged like it or not, the voice of Jesus still calls us to become fully reliant upon God, not our finances.
We need to place everything in God’s hands
Our finances, our time, our families, our lives.
Self Denial does it cost you anything?
Did you give out of your richness out of what you can afford or out of your poverty – what can you not afford to give?
Were any of you tempted to take part in a religious performance and put your money in the drum as nosily as possible? We probably find it very heard to identify with the women giving everything, What we give is casual at best
And that is a problem.
That is what Jesus asks you to give. The value of the gift is not what is given but what is left in the hands of the giver – it is a sacrifice. For some of us it is far too easy just to give money it’s cost us nothing But time is something that we do not have
The call of Christ is everything
-Self denial is not a yearly act
-It is a daily act. The call of Christ is to constantly deny yourself take up your cross and follow him It isn’t meant to be comfortable. Here in New Zealand, the call on us is to deny the voice of economic reason. And to give to God everything
So what will that look like for us
-Firstly it will mean that as big brothers and sisters to our families how have been forced to give up everything then we have a responsibility to use what we have to care for those who do not have.
-But this thing goes much deeper than finances
For some of us the thing that God asks of us is time.
In giving all she had the widow also gave us something
A hero of faith. Someone to look too
Who undermine the small voice inside us
Who reveals it lies. Instead of looking down in pity,
they give us to chance to look at a world where material goods are not as important, where sharing one’s daily bread is a norm,
not an exception. Who encourages the voice of Christ to break through again.
”If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” – CT Studd