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The Faith of a Widow

Bold Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sacrificial Giving, Treatment of Widows

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Treatment of Widows

This morning as we continue our series called Bold Faith I want to talk about a no-named person from the Bible. This woman is only known to us as a widow. Her story shows up in Mark and Luke but we are going to look at Luke’s account today. Her story is in Luke chapter 21 but we are going to go back to the end of Luke chapter 20 to start off.
Jesus is talking about the teachers of the law and is warning the disciples to watch out for them. Here is what Jesus says.

45 Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

Notice Jesus makes it a point to mention their shameless treatment of widows. I think He is setting them up. He knows they are about to encounter a widow and her situation and her BOLD FAITH is going to cement His point in their hearts.
My first point that I want you to write down is this: When we distort God’s Word we create victims from our presumed righteousness.
These teachers of the law had distorted God’s word and were teaching it in a way that gave them an advantage. It created victims of the people who listened to their teachings. They cheated widows out of their property I mean that's pretty low down if you ask me.
So how does God tell us to treat widows then? How are we especially as “the church” supposed to look after them. Here’s what God commands in Exodus.
In the beginning of Chapter 20 of Exodus it says this “ Then God gave the people all these instructions” So I’m off the hook on this one because I’m just repeating what God said. If we keep going all the way down to Chapter 22 in Exodus we get to God’s instruction on widow’s.

22 “You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. 23 If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will blaze against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.

The Hebrews had just seen their cries to God avenged so they knew that God would hear the cries of the oppressed and answer them. Pretty clear cut rule number 1 on the treatment of widows is don’t exploit them. And very severe and clear cut consequences here.

19 ‘The one who denies justice to a resident alien, a fatherless child, or a widow is cursed.’

And all the people will say, ‘Amen!’

19 ‘Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows.’

And all the people will reply, ‘Amen.’

And James writes this in the New Testament:

27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

There are a ton more references in the Bible to widows. So obviously this is an ongoing problem then and now.
Now this is just a little refresher on how widows are supposed to be treated. But remember the set up from Jesus at the beginning. He’s setting up a lesson on bold faith that was powerful enough that 2 of the gospel authors put this occurence in. It stuck with them for a reason.
My next point is this: When you exercise Bold Faith God Notices.
How do I know that He notices? Check out what happens with the widow’s offering.

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

I don’t know if any of you have ever seen any of the world series of poker on ESPN. When I see its on I flip over to see if anybody is close to going all in. Now usually when someone goes all in they are trying to put someone else out which means its almost pointless for them to do because they can’t get put out or its the one who is low on money and really needs to double up. The funny part and the thing I like to watch is the antics they go through when they push all their chips in. They push back from the table, stand up, turn their hats backwards or take them off. They pace and agonize and the camera follows every move. They get all the attention from the audience, the other players, and the cameras. Just because they went all in. The reason I bring that in is because the widow in this account She went all in too. But she wasn’t seeking attention. She didn’t want anyone to see or notice.
But guess what Jesus noticed her. I can almost see her so I want you to picture this in your mind. She’s coming up to drop her coins, all these scribes and teachers of the law are in front of her making sure all their offerings are loud and that everyone is noticing how great they are. She’s tucked behind the last of them trying to be as small and invisible as possible. Her 2 little coins don’t make any noise either I bet. And she leaves the same way she comes in quiet and invisible. She just wants to go and worship God with everything she has including her resources and not be noticed.
Jesus knows her situation and heart. This poor widow. He knew that she was giving everything she had to God. THAT TAKES BOLD FAITH.
It takes BOLD FAITH to say I don’t care what the world says…I don’t care that my offering doesn’t match up to everyone else’s…I don’t care that people would say hey you can’t give everything....
It takes faith to know that God promised He will take care of our needs when we need it. It takes faith to get to a place of full reliance on God but isn’t that where we all need to be. To stop worrying about tomorrow. Jesus said this about worrying about tomorrow:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

This widow that Jesus saw trusted completely that God would take care of her needs. She wasn’t worried about where her next meal would come or what she would wear. She gave everything she had to God having a faith that was bold enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was provide everything she needed and more.
The apostle Paul says this in 2 Corinthians:

6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.

Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

This widow was giving cheerfully even though her gift was small to the eyes of the world it was her offering that caught the attention of the Savior. It’s quite obvious that her good deed is remembered forever because 2000 years later here I am up here talking about this widow. I can’t wait to meet her so I can quit calling her widow and learn her name.
My last point is this: When you step out in Bold Faith the world will say it doesn’t matter, it’s silly, or harmful. God knows your heart and your reward is in Him.
All those people in front of the widow in line would have told her this is crazy, your little offering is not gonna make a difference. Her Heavenly Father has her reward. She is His child and yes it made a huge difference. She planted generously and will receive a generous harvest.
Where is our faith this morning? Are we as Bold as this widow. Are we ready to go all in with God knowing that He is going to provide. Or are we hedging our bets and holding back a little in reserve. I think its time that we emptied out the reserve, stopped holding back, and let God take control.
If you can all stand as the worship team comes up.
“Prayer”
God Some of us here this morning our tanks are on E. The warning light is on. It’s been on for a while. Whether it’s our resources, our relationships, our energy, our finances or our faith we are almost out. It’s time to stop holding back and wondering whether You will take care of us. You will because You said You would. For some of us here we don’t have any assurances because we haven’t yet placed our faith in your Son, Jesus. We haven’t accepted His sacrifice and taken that first step of faith. Today is the day to do just that. God I ask that you move during this invitation that hearts and lives are changed. The altars are open and if you need to talk or ask questions I’ll be up here. Come on today is the day.
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