71 Luke 21.1-4
v Opening Illustration
Ø Chris Rushton
§ Worked in NY as a trader
§ Corner glass office on first floor
§ Glued a dollar bill to the sidewalk
· Watch what people would do to get it
v People are a little crazy when it comes to money
Ø There is so much emotion wrapped up in it
§ Perhaps that is why Jesus spoke on it so often
v Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle
Ø Throughout the entire Bible there are roughly 2,350 verses concerning money. This is roughly twice as many as faith and prayer combined. Fifteen percent of everything Jesus said related to money and possessions. He spoke about money and possessions more than heaven and hell combined. The only subject Jesus spoke of more often is the Kingdom of God.
Ø Why? Because the Scriptures make clear there is a fundamental connection between a person's spiritual life and his attitudes and actions concerning money and possessions. Often we divorce the two -- Christ sees them as essentially related to one another.
v And in our text today, Jesus makes this abundantly clear…
v While the Luke text makes it sound as if Jesus happened to catch what went on in the temple treasury…
Ø The parallel text in Mk 12:41 makes his action more intentional…
§ Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.
v The temple had many different areas for different purposes
Ø But Jesus made his way to the temple treasury and sat down
§ Treasury busiest place in the temple
· Everyone had to pass by the 13 brass containers that were set up to receive the tithes
¨ Here, Jesus could easily sit and watch without being noticed
v That is something as true today as it was back then
Ø Jesus is always watching
§ And that is a comforting thought in many areas of our life
· When we are in danger
· When we are in a spiritual valley
· When we are spiritually weak
¨ It comforts us to know that we have a “footprints” type of God
Ø Walking beside us even though we cannot see him
§ Keeping an eye on us
v But we have to realize that he is watching over all of our life
Ø Including what we do with our money
§ If we believe what Randy Alcorn says about money
· That there is a direct link between how we handle our money and our spiritual lives
¨ Jesus is watching very closely…
Ø Watching and assessing
v With that said, there are two reactions you can have
Ø 1) I don’t like that!
§ You see…
· Our spiritual life is a fuzzy area
· It is a touchy, feely area
¨ An area where we don’t do much assessing
Ø But should that be the way it is?
§ We see Jesus sitting and assessing here
§ Jesus was always warning against stagnation
· Matt 7:19
¨ Tree that does not produce good fruit cut down thrown into fire
§ Paul was constantly assessing the churches he planted
· Encouraging and admonishing
v A second reaction to Jesus watching our financial lives is…
Ø 2) Ouch, that hurts
§ Ben Rodgers writes
When you go to a doctor for your annual check-up, he will often begin to poke, prod, and press various places, all the while asking, “Does this hurt? How about this?” If you cry out in pain, one of two things has happened. Either the doctor has pushed too hard, without the right sensitivity, or there’s something wrong, and the doctor will say, “We’d better do some more tests. It’s not supposed to hurt there!”
So it is when pastors preach on financial responsibility, and some cry out in discomfort, criticizing the message and the messenger. Either the pastor has pushed too hard, or perhaps there’s something wrong. In that case, we are in need of the Great Physician because it’s not supposed to hurt there.
v We need to realize…
Ø Jesus is watching our finances
§ Is there any pain?
§ Is there any discomfort?
§ Is there any soreness?
· There shouldn’t be
¨ But it bears repeating…
Ø Jesus watches this area of your life very closely!
v He is watching…
Ø But what is he watching for?
§ Two things…
God looks at the Spirit in which it is given
v When you write your check to the IRS in April
Ø The IRS does not care what the motivation is for writing your check in April
· They just want the money
v It is just the opposite with God
Ø He does not care about the amount
§ As much as he cares about the motivation
· 1 Cor 13:3
¨ If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing
v Mother Teresa
Ø It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
v You see…
Ø It is not the amount we give; it is the motive He looks at
§ This woman gave 2 Lepta
· Lepta means “peeled” or “fine”
¨ Because they weren’t worth much
Ø 1 Lepton was worth about 1/8th of a cent
§ She gave ¼ of a penny!
· Yet Jesus brought her gift to the disciple’s attention
Ø You see…
§ The “HOW” is more important than the “WHAT”
· 2 Cor 9:7
¨ Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
Ø In many ways living under the new covenant is more difficult (Freedom)
§ The NT does not tell us the “WHAT” regarding the tithe
· It leaves the “WHAT” between us and God
Ø It does give us the “HOW”
§ It tells us in what spirit to give
§ It gives us the principle
· Yahweh wants us to give out of love
¨ Give because we have been given
Ø We are to mirror / emulate our Master
v Illustration: 3 types of givers
Ø It has been said that givers can be divided into three types: the flint, the lemon and the honeycomb.
§ Some givers are like a piece of flint; to get anything out of it you must hammer it, and even then you only get chips and sparks.
§ Others are like lemons; to get anything out of a lemon you must squeeze it and squeeze it hard, because the more you squeeze, the more you get.
§ But others are like a honeycomb which just overflows with its own sweetness. That is how God gives to us, and that is how we should give in turn
· The spirit with which something is given is greater than the gift itself
The second principle that becomes clear as we look at this text is…
God looks at the Sacrifice it represents
v Jesus sat there and, just as he had done many times previous
Ø Peered into the people’s hearts and lives
§ With the woman at the well (Jn 4)
§ With the rich young ruler (Lk 18)
§ Nathaniel under the fig tree (Jn 1)
v As he sat, he saw a study in contrasts…
Ø He saw the rich
§ Stopping by one of the 13 brass containers
§ Releasing copious amounts of wealth
§ Some bringing so much that they had their servant carry it
§ Some giving ostentatiously
§ Some giving much out of the right motives, I’m sure
· The text makes no judgment call as to the motivations of the rich
Ø He saw a woman
§ A poor woman
· Perhaps her cloths gave her away
¨ Approached quickly and dropped in her 2 Lepta
Ø Jesus divinely looked into that woman’s heart and life and saw…
§ Those two Lepta represented all she had
· The principle Jesus is teaching us here is…
¨ It is proportion, not portion, that is important
Ø A tough truth
§ God looks at the sacrifice that the gift represents
v V. 3 ~ I tell you the truth, this woman has put in more than all the others
Ø In proportion to what she had, she gave the most!
§ The rich have the ability to give without it hampering their lifestyle
· What Jesus notices about the woman is that it does!
¨ Her lifestyle is impacted by her gift to God
v Jeremy Taylor-American Educator
Ø He, who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.”
v John Stott
Ø A gift is acceptable according to what the giver has, not according to what he has not.”
v CS Lewis
Ø I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”
v There is that poking by the Great Physician again!
v God does not want our money…He wants us
Ø We make a big deal out of the tithe
§ When in fact it is a means to an end
Ø Yahweh uses money to assess our spiritual growth
§ William Arthur Ward
· “Giving is more than a responsibility—it is a privilege; more than an act of obedience—it is evidence of our faith.”
Ø God really does not want our money
§ He has no need for it
· What he does want is us!
Ø Romans 12:1 tells us to…
§ offer your bodies as living sacrifices
· God wants us!
The Koh-i-nor diamond is among the most spectacular in the world. Queen Victoria received it as a gift from a maharajah when he was a young boy. Later as a grown man this maharajah visited Queen Victoria again. He requested that the stone be brought from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace.
The maharajah took the diamond and, kneeling before the Queen, gave it back to her, saying, "Your Majesty, I gave this jewel when I was a child, too young to know what I was doing. I want to give it to you again in the fullness of my strength, with all of my heart and affection, and gratitude, now and forever, fully realizing all that I do."
Ø That is all Jesus is looking for in our tithe
§ A person kneeing down
§ Lifting up their sacrificial gift
· Whether it is a penny or a fortune it makes no difference to him
§ And saying exactly what the maharajah said…
· I want to give You back my life, Lord Jesus, that I gave You years ago. I want to give it again to You with gratitude, fully cognizant of all that I am doing
· And one of the barometers for that is giving
¨ Illustration: Coffee pots with glass tube running up the side
Ø That tube showed how full the coffee pot was
Ø It was an external indicator of the internal content
¨ Our unqualified devotion
¨ Our unconditional fidelity
¨ Our utter commitment
¨ Our unreserved dedication
v So much so that church growth consultants tell us to do away with the offering
v Don’t pass the plate
Ø It is a negative
Ø It repels people
Ø It is guilt inducing
Ø It is uncomfortable
§ Why is it uncomfortable?
· Because we are focused on what the people around us are thinking
¨ Not so much here because we use envelopes
Ø But have you ever attended a church where they don’t?
Ø We become statues with our gaze fix ahead of us
§ We become better than Ray Charles at reaching and grabbing the plate without looking
· For many, the offering time is consumed with thoughts of others
v What we must realize,
Ø And what the text today informs us of
§ Is that the offering is something between you and God
A little boy was eagerly looking forward to the birthday party of a friend who lived only a few blocks away. When the day finally arrived, a blizzard made the sidewalks and roads nearly impassable. The lad’s father, sensing the danger, hesitated to let his son go. The youngster reacted tearfully. "But Dad," he pleaded, "all the other kids will be there. Their parents are letting them go." The father thought for a moment, then replied softly, "All right, you may go." Surprised but overjoyed, the boy bundled up and plunged into the raging storm.
The driving snow made visibility almost impossible, and it took him more than half an hour to trudge the short distance to the party. As he rang the doorbell, he turned briefly to look out into the storm. His eye caught the shadow of a retreating figure. It was his father. He had followed his son’s every step to make sure he arrived safely.
· He wanted to look into people’s hearts as they gave
¨ We know he was doing this by his insightful comments about the rich man and the woman
v Here is the litmus test of your giving…
Ø Would it make a difference in what you gave if you saw Jesus watching you?
§ Jesus was intentional about wanted to see the people tithing
§ He did so for a specific purpose
· He wanted to anonymously watch the people as they gave
¨ He wanted to look into people’s hearts
¨ He wanted to peer into their motives for giving
¨ This was possible due to the Passover
Proper motives are essential in Christian service. This is especially true in the giving of our money. The Lord is more concerned with shy we give than with how much we give. We must have a right heart attitude. Therefore we should never give in order to receive the praise of others, but because we love God and desire to see His name honored and glorified.
An experience in the life of English preacher and theologian Andrew Fuller illustrates this truth. James Duff, in Flashes of Truth, told of a time when Fuller went back to his hometown to collect money for foreign missions. One of his contacts was an old friend. When presented with the need, the man said, “Well, Andrew, seeing it’s you, I’ll give you five dollars.” “No,” said Fuller, “I can’t take your money for my cause, seeing it is for me,” and he handed the money back. The man saw his point. “Andrew, you are right. Here’s ten dollars, seeing it is for Jesus Christ.” Duff concluded, “Let us remember, it is not the amount we give toward helping the Lord’s work; it is the motive He looks at.”
When we have the opportunity to contribute to some worthy Christian cause, may we do so with the right purpose in mind. We should never give just because we feel obligated to organizations or persons, nor because we desire to receive selfish recognition or reward. The apostle Paul said, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). We should honestly say, “It’s for the Lord!” - R.W.D.
· is why the offering is a very real part of worship
§ It gives us a very tangible opportunity to show our true hearts toward God
· It is an opportunity like no other for God to know your heart
§ The offering answers the questions…
· How do I really feel about the work of God? (Church)
· How do I really feel about God owning everything? (Heart)
· How much am I really willing to give up for God? (Lifestyle)
Ø That means that Spiritually speaking…
§ There is no advantage to being rich
· In fact, if the truth be told
¨ Having money and being a Christian is in many ways more difficult
Ø There is more responsibility
Ø Illustration: Spiderman Motto
§ With great power comes great responsibility
§ To whom much is given, much is required
Ø Jesus sat there and I’m sure watched many people put there money into those 13 brass containers
§ Then he saw a study in contrasts between the Rich man and the woman