When The Poor Give More, Mark 12:41-44

They gave what they could go without, she gave what she couldn’t live without. 

Does Jesus admire our giving?  We’ll come back to that.  

You wanna know who gave the most to charity last year?  Forbes gave a Top 10 list:

  1. Azim Premji, Indian Tech titan, $7.6B
  2. Warren Buffet, $3.6B
  3. Steward Resnick, $780M
  4. T. Sanford, credit card mogul, $350M
  5. Philip Ragon, $200M
  6. Stephen Schwarzman, $180M
  7. The late John Huntsman’s family $150M
  8. Hansjoerg Wyss, $131M
  9. Kenneth Griffin, Chicago’s wealthiest man, $125M
  10. Sandy Weil, $109M

That’s some serious charity!  Or is it?  Today Jesus teaches His disciples a lesson in giving. It’s a great moment actually.  Jesus picks a spot in the Women’s Court and sits down.  His spot gave him a great view of the Temple “Treasury” boxes where people put their offerings.  Apparently taking a break from miracles and preaching, Jesus plopped down to just watch people throw in their offerings.  He probably saw men, women, kids, Jews, Gentile “worshippers of God” – he probably saw all sorts of people filling up the Treasury.  He saw all sorts of amounts too.  If He knew the thoughts of people’s hearts, their names, their histories, their attitudes – essentially everything about everyone – then of course He knew the amounts each one gave that day too.  Large, medium and small amounts, some stingy, some generous.  

But one woman got his attention that day.  She wasn’t in Israel’s Billionaire club and so He didn’t peer at her more attentively because she was dragging a bigger bag of money to the Treasury.  No, Jesus took special notice of her because she only threw in 2 measly coins not even worth a fraction of a penny.  Those two clinking coins impressed Him more than the “thuds” of large money bags hitting the bottom of the treasury box.


He explains in the text:  Everyone else gave out of their wealth, she, however, gave out of her poverty.  In other words, others gave what they didn’t need, she gave what she needed to survive.   They gave what they could go without, she gave what she couldn’t live without.  Their gift may have meant more to the Temple, but her gift meant more to her.  This is why Jesus said she gave the most.  And this is why the sermon is titled:   When The Poor Give More. 

Let look at 4 Points related to how the Poor Give More

#1:  We Are Watched.  

Jesus is watching us.  Look at verse 41, “….”

He saw the Churches in Revelation 2 and 3.   “I have been watching!’ God told the sinful Israelites.   He has seen what they’ve been doing.  “Does he who formed the eye not see?” The Lord asked Moses.  The Israelites were told repeatedly to “do what is right in the eyes of the LORD”.  One of the saddest observations in the Bible is “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6).  Job said, “He does not take His eyes of the righteous” (Job 36:7).  “The eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him.  Jesus said, “Your Father in heaven sees what is done in secret” (Mt. 6:18). 

The idea of God watching us is that He knows us.  This can either be very frightening, or it can be very comforting.  Frightening if we are not walking with Him in righteousness, or, comforting if we are trusting Him through trials.  He knew each person He saw throw their money in the Treasury And He knew this widow.  He knew her intimately even though He never “met” her.  He saw her grieving as a widow – her aching loss, her fear of the future, her loneliness.  He also saw her checkbook – He knew she those two pennies were literally the only ones she had to rub together.  God knows His own.  

As disciples we are dedicated to “seeing” Jesus more and more.  We are dedicated to making others “see” Jesus in us more and more.  And, we must never forget that Jesus sees us.

#2:  Giving Is Core to Discipleship.  

One of the ways you can guage how serious you are about Jesus is by your giving.  Are you giving?  Do we splurge on ourselves and give God whatever is left over?  If any is leftover?  Are you responsible with your finances so that you can give?  If it comes down to the electric bill or giving to God like you’ve committed what will you do?  Giving is core to Discipleship.  And we will be tested in this.  

This woman believed in the LORD, and, it showed in her gift that morning.  She was literally broke after putting in her last two coins.  There was no money now for going through the drive-thru after church.  She didn’t know now where she would get money for groceries or rent.  And because she trusted in God, she gave Him what she had and it was her way of throwing herself before God saying “I trust you.”  

How different she is from the religious leaders we learned about last week!  For them, religion was about getting.  But for this widow, her religion was about giving.  You can’t serve two masters Jesus said.  You can’t serve God and money.  You have to choose.  Either we will make God a tool for us to get more money or we will make money a tool for worshipping God.  One or the other.  

Giving is core to discipleship.  That’s why Jesus calls His disciples to Himself.  This isnt a public teaching or sermon topic.  This is a private lesson on giving for His disciples.  Giving is core to the life of a disciple.  That’s why the Holy Spirit put this passage in the Gospels too – for all the disciples who would come after.

His statements about this widow were not public.  She didn’t even know He made these statements.  What is God saying about you in heaven that you don’t even know He’s saying?  What are the angels, who are always watching also, saying as they observe us each day?

Application:  Be sure to give yourself to the Lord.  (2 Cor. 8:5)  There is a danger in giving your money to the Lord but not giving yourself.  When you have given yourself to the Lord it changes your giving. 

#3:  Sacrifice Is Core to Giving.  

The woman was not making a huge offering, but, she was making a huge sacrifice.  

Giving is core to discipleship, and sacrifice is core to giving.  There is a connection between the Greatest Command and giving.  The Greatest Command we just learned earlier in this chapter is “Love the Lord your GOd with all your heart, soul strength and mind.”  It is impossible to love God like that and withhold from Him.  

David said:  “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  Does it count as a sacrifice to the LORD, if it wasn’t a sacrifice to us?  If what we give to God cost us nothing, does God look on it with any value?

the Macedonians (2 Cor. 8:3-5)

Widow of Zarepheth (1 Kg 17:12-16) she was a poor widow with a little boy.  It was a famine, they were malnourished, underweight, weak, and desperate.  She was outside gathering sticks to make into a meal for her and her boy to eat.  Then Elijah the prophet appears on her property and asks for something to eat.  She doesn’t have enough for him to eat.  But he’s a man of God so she does it. She gives what she has.  And when there’s no more God provides. 

Sometimes the pressure of finances, and life, can be so much.  But this is where believers have hope.  We don’t despair because our God sees us and He is faithful.  And when we know that, there is nothing we can’t face.  We aren’t crushed.  We’re like diabolical beetles.  You know what those are?  They’re beetles only 2cm long with the toughest exoskeleton.  Their exoskeleton is so strong they can take any predators bite, as a matter of fact, they can take 10 times the strongest predators bite.  They can withstand 39,000 times their body weight and walk away just fine.  To illustrate, that would be like 7M pounds falling on me and I get up and walk away just fine.  (I’ll let you do the math to see how much I weigh).  

Faith is your exoskeleton.  When you know God and trust Him, you will be able to withstand pressures you would never otherwise stand up under.  That is the thought behind “I don’t know how people who don’t have Jesus go through life”.  

Do you ever think about the trade-offs of your giving?  Or, what in accounting we call “opportunity costs”?  An opportunity cost, or trade-off, is the thing you could have spent your money on but you didn’t because you spent it on something else.  We all engage in these kinds of trade-off decisions everyday:  Knowing we don’t have enough money for two things we pick one and in in picking we forgo the other option.  Nothing is more hilarious than watching the kids try to pick a candy for dessert.  Because some mean ole ogre parent won’t allow two candies it becomes a comical case study in trade-offs:  either the kitkat or the snickers; either the skittles or the gum; whoppers or the airhead…. “Can I have both?”  To which I reply, “What do you think this is grandma and grandpa’s house?  No, you can only have one.”  (Over there they would get 3, a heaping bowl of ice cream, a cookie, and all this after a milkshake at Russ’ earlier).  

Trade-offs.  What about in your giving to God?  Do you ever think about what you could have spent that money on?  Maybe you could afford a higher monthly car payment and drive a nicer car.  Maybe you could save quickly for a new toy – say a boat, a motorcycle, an camper, a snowmobile, etc.  Maybe you could afford a new wardrobe more often, or a new outfit for that matter.  Maybe its more critical:  you could pay off some debt quicker.  Maybe you could eat out more with your wife and kids, or vacation.  Obviously this all depends on lifestyles and current giving habits for each of us.  But, when we give, I encourage you to think about the trade-offs.  Not to make us resent giving, not at all.  Instead, those trade-offs should be seen as “sacrifices”.  When you forgo spending money on those things you could have bought, so that you can redirect that money to God, there is something worshipful about being aware that you are intentionally sacrificing certain things in order to put God first.  And that, in my estimation, has the power to put more heart-felt meaning into your giving.  

The Size is in the Sacrifice:  The measure of the gift is in the personal cost

  I think we need to mention something here. Small wages don’t mean small worship. Giving is an act of worship, and a man’s worship is in no way hindered by his lack of a bigger income. His worship is only hindered by his want of a bigger income.

People sometimes say they wish they had lot’s of money to give to the church, as if the only fragrant, acceptable and pleasing giving includes lots of zero’s in the check.

But, Jesus measures the giving not by how much others receive from us, but, by how much we give of ourselves. God is glorified in the cost to us. Someone said, “If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving.” The widow gave all she had to live on. Do we give until it costs us? Do we give out of our plenty, or, do we give out of our poverty? That’s why it’s called sacrifice. There’s a certain point when giving requires faith. Giving in faith glorifies God.

#4:  Giving Comes From Trust.  

“You can’t outgive God” Eleanor Slater has always said.  When your relationship with God is one whereby you trust Him there are two things that will happen.  The first is He will give to you and the second is you will give to Him.  Nothing opens up the blessing of God like a person who gives themselves heart, soul, mind, body, treasures to Him.  Honestly, what does God get out of us giving to Him?  

Someone has said, “Trust and faith are the wings of love”, and, when you trust God your love for Him will fly.  And there is nothing in the world like love to make someone give of themselves.  Love can be defined as giving.  Love makes you give to bless the object of your love.  So I say, that when you trust God you will love Him and when you love Him you will give to Him.    

Jesus tested Phillip when the hungry crowds approached.  He asked Him “Where will we get enough bread to feed all these people?”  He already knew what He was going to do though.  He was testing Phillip.  Phillip looked out at thousands of people and said, “I. Have. No. Idea.”  The point with Phillip was Jesus wanted Phillip to see the odds, and choose to either fear of have faith.  

If we start with the realization that God needs nothing from us, then, what is the point of giving to Him?  Our giving is our demonstration of our Love for Him, our trust in Him, and our desire to give back to Him after He has given so much.  

How do we give to God?  Well we could talk about all kinds of things:  time, serving at Church, studying the Bible and reading it, praying, witnessing to people for Christ, and on and on.  But here the text is focusing on giving.  So lets focus on that.  She wasnt’ giving to a cause.  She was giving to God.  The temple offering was collected to keep up the Temple, the locus of worship. 

How can the poor give more?  Jesus is pressing home the idea that though the money may be less than others, the sacrifice is more. The rich people’s offering was a big amount for the temple, but, the widow’s offering was a big amount to her. Her offering cost her more even though it was less than the others.

Giving til it hurts. They gave out of their discretionary income.  She gave out of what was otherwise going to be spent on basic needs:  food, rent, heat, electric, etc.  

We started with the question:  Does Jesus admire your giving?  What would make him admire it?  Let me answer it this way:

How much you give matters to me.  Not in the sense that I need your money, or the church needs your money.  Your giving matters to me in this sense:  I want you to give so that you are showing God He matters to you – He matters first to you.  That, I am confident, is what makes Jesus admire our giving.  

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