Jesus and the Offerings
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44.)
This time Jesus was not teaching, He was not healing, nor was He preaching. He was not even standing, but seated, and not only seated but watching the crowd put their money into the temple treasury.
The word "watching" in this story seems to take center stage and is of utmost importance. To "watch" is to look or observe attentively or carefully or be closely observant. So, in this story one can well ascertain the fact that Jesus was closely, attentively, and carefully observing every believer give his/her offering to God.
If the temple liturgical arrangement was similar to ours today, especially here in East Central Africa, then one could conclude that this was a Sabbath day during divine service and time for worshiping God with offerings. In my mental picture, this is what I visualize happening at that moment.
Amazingly, this is the time and part of worship when Jesus is seen leaving everything else and focusing His attention on watching the giving of offerings by everyone who gave. The serious attention Jesus spends on the giving of offerings is intense and this biblical passage has a message for us today. Beloved, this must spiritually speak to us as worshipers of the living God. Offerings are important to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our current General Conference Stewardship Director has said that "Returning tithe to God is good but we haven't given anything to God yet." This happens when, "We present our offerings to God since giving offerings come as the overflow of a grateful heart." Tithe is expected and the amount is specified but free-will offerings come as a special gift (or as an expression of love) from us."
The offering time during a worship service is an expression of this freedom of choice. This is a time when the giver expresses his own personal worship. This is when the heart of the worshipper responds to the bigness of God. This is when one bows in true submission and appreciation is shown to God by the gifts we present to Him.
Since this is the time for heart submission, Christ is very interested to see whose hearts will worship Him. Jesus was observing this at the temple when He noticed the widow’s offerings. Jesus also sees our offering pattern and knows our heart. The offerings we give to our Lord have a lot to say about our relationship with Him.
When you read the biblical passage given above, Jesus does not appreciate the offering of the widow based on the amount; He appreciated the offering because of the spirit of her heart. That’s why Jesus called His disciples and told them, “This poor widow has put more into the temple treasury than all the others.” She put in all she had. The giving God looks for begins in the heart and nowhere else. This means before she gave the two small copper coins, she had already given her heart first. Coins follow the heart! Where the heart is, the offering will find its way also. Let us give our hearts to God and our resources will find their way to the Creator.
Jesus looks at the giving heart as a living sacrifice. "This is your spiritual act of worship," Paul rightly states in Romans 12:1. If Jesus was impressed with how much was given, He would have appreciated the others who gave much. When God asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac, God was not interested in Isaac as an offering but in the heart of Abraham as a worshiper. (Genesis 22:10-12.) An offering is the evidence of worship. This is true even with idle or devil worshipers. No one worships without an offering. Actually, worship means offering. Beloved, based on this exposition, it is vitally important to cross-examine our hearts as we give offerings to the almighty God, the owner of even the sources from which the offerings come.
Let us give our hearts first to God and our offerings will follow. Let God reign deep in your heart. When this is done, unselfish offerings will flow from the heart to God and worship will have a deeper meaning to the cheerful giver.
“Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Revelation 14:7).
Article written by William Bagambe, ECD Stewardship Ministries Director and previously printed in the Apr-Jun 2011 issue of the Dynamic Steward journal.