God’s Word for You
Luke 21:1-4 out of her poverty
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 19, 2019
21 He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury 2 and he also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Amen I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 They all gave their gifts out of their wealth, but out of her poverty she put in all she had to live on.”
Prof. Lenski informs us: “Thirteen trumpet-shaped, metal receptacles (shapharoth), each marked with a Hebrew letter, stood at the court of the women to receive the gifts of the worshipers for the benefit of the Temple and for the Temple tax” (Luke p. 1005). Luke’s term, “the treasury” (τὸ γαζοϕυλάκιον) probably refers to the whole row of containers. While the wealthy streamed past into the temple, they tossed in coins of silver and gold, and the sound must have been like rain falling on little silver bells, with a tintinnabulation that was seemingly endless.
Then came a widow. No one would have paid much attention to her. We don’t know whether she was old or young. Luke says she was “penniless” (Latin pauperculam), while Mark describes her as “pitiful” (Mark 12:42). She may have been young, with children to feed, or old, with no one to help her. The circumstances of her poverty are not given, but God’s judgment of her is profound. Of all who were lavishing the temple with their money, the Lord noticed her. She gave even though she had nothing at all to give. This is truly a gift.
Paul described the Macedonian churches (especially Philippi) in similar terms: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2-4).
Our stewardship is the way that God provides for his kingdom. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). So when it comes to our possessions and what God wants us to do with them, we have four things to remember:
1, God wants us to use our possessions to provide for our families. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
2, God wants us to use our possessions to give or to lend to those in need. “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
3, God wants us to use our possessions to pay the taxes we owe to the government. “This is also why we pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes. If revenue, then revenue” (Romans 13:6-7).
4, God wants us to use our possessions to make regular and planned offerings for the work of the church. “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up…” (1 Corinthians 16:2), and “each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Do not waste the possessions you have. Do not take, steal, or coerce away the possessions of others, and do not let yourself have any greedy thoughts about possessions, whether your own or anyone else’s. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6), and to be content with what God gives us is the heart of the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Pastor Timothy Smith
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