HUM - Walking across a parking lot, a woman saw a driverless car slowly rolling toward her. With unusual agility, she sprinted to it, opened the door and pulled the emergency brake, bringing the car to a halt. As she got out, a man in coveralls was among the fast-gathering crowd that approached her.
“Well, I stopped the car!” she announced with pride.
“Yeah, I know,” replied the man. “I was pushing it.”
Pride can be a funny and strange thing.
INTRO - In our message last week we discussed Jesus’ Lordship.
This week we turn our attention to the topic of pride.
Pride is something we teach children to take in their academics, sports, and talents.
Also, we remind Christians that pride comes before the fall.
We will see that pride leading to sin is bad, whereas noting someones good character is something God calls on us to do for the purpose of building others up in the Lord.
Your challenge at the end of this message will be to evaluate your perception of the meaning of pride.
Too often we are quick to focus on the bad side of pride with little thought of the benefits of giving praise to someone who takes pride in what they do.
In addition, we will be challenged to consider how we receive praise.
Are we mature enough to receive praise and thank God for the abilities, talents, and things we can do?
Also, do we make an effort to acknowledge the “well done” actions of other Christians; are we building others up?
TRANS - Well, all that is to come. Before we get started let’s open to our text and then, after reading, proceed with prayer:
HUM - There is a story about a podiatrist (foot doctor). Once he was visited by a rather stout woman.
After he pried her foot loose from a dainty shoe, he asked her what her trouble was. “It seems my feet are always swollen,” she complained. “I wonder what causes this.”
The doctor glanced at her feet, then at the shoes. “Well,” he said, “it could be pride in accomplishing the impossible.”
She really wanted those shoes to fit!!!
To that end, lets begin with an inquiry about the dress of the scribes.
What did the scribes’ long robes indicate?
People of this time considered white linen clothes as a mark of distinction.
People, such as priests; Levites; and scribes, often wore white instead of the bright colors of the common people.
When a scribe passed by, people rose respectfully.
POINT - If you serve only for the approval of men, you will lose the approval of God.
What does it mean to “devour widows’ houses” in Mark 12:40?
We do know scribes were forbidden to receive payment for their teaching.
Either they supported themselves with a secular job or had to be dependent on gifts.
Perhaps some of the scribes impressed the widows in hope to have their houses willed to them.
Or, perhaps they found legal technicalities and were able to lay claim to the houses of defenseless people.
Then again, maybe the expected generous sums from widows for their prayers.
Also, this might not be for personal gain, but for the benefit of religious institutions.
Really our only take away is they operated like “legal thieves.” Kind of like inheritance tax, but thats another issue :-)
TRANS - Okay, so many the religious leaders were basically imposters, pretenders, and had little idea for what the ministry of the Messiah truly presented to humankind.
Now lets turn to the everyday folks:
What was the treasury the people were contributing to?
The temple’s treasury and its chambers are mentioned in serval early texts.
Some were for specific purposes while others were “freewill offerings.”
It’s possible the people contributed there, or even into treasury boxes.
What we know is the money collected might be used for a specific purpose or go to something more general like basic upkeep needs.
POINT - Lots of funds were being collected, yet all for what appeared the purposes of God.
The people wanted to do the right thing, maybe not always for the right reason, but the did give to God.
Let’s focus in on the widow’s offering:
What was the value of a small copper coin?
These coins were less than a centimeter in diameter.
Mark helps us understand the value by converting them into the more familiar Roman coinage.
These two coins, lepta, equal the smallest Roman coin, the quadran.
A quadran equals one-quarter of the value of the next Roman coin, the assarion.
The assarion is worth 1/16 of a denarius.
A dinarius was the normal pay for a day’s work.
POINT - Giving to appear religious, or religiously giving were among the many types of giving.
However, Jesus chooses to point to the one who gave to good from a heart of righteousness.
Note that Jesus does praise the widow’s giving, generosity, and goodness of heart.
She gave all and God gives her place in His Word.
She might have thought, “Oh this is just so little, but all I have.”
And God turns that “little” into a powerful lesson for every single Christian from the time of Jesus until this very moment; even for us!!!
POINT - Never turn the praise given to you in the name of Jesus. God may be using that to do more good than the entirety of your offerings from throughout your entire life.
True humility knows both how to give and how to receive.
Pride is one that not only promotes self, but fails to receive from others.
What principle of giving does Jesus teach using the widow as His example?
Note that the women didn’t call attention to herself.
While poor, the women gave all that she had.
God is not looking at the amount of money a person gives.
He is looking at the attitude of the person.
In addition, Jesus points out how much the woman kept back, nothing.
She gave all that she had; she had to trust God for her life.
Peter once noted “We have left everything to follow you!”
This women reminds us that people who give sacrificially will not be forgotten by God.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
POINT - Jesus, the Bible, and a heart of kindness all lead us to say good things about others.
Make a point of saying thank you and your welcome is not only good manners, but may well be the language we hear spoken often in heaven.
Remember to praise the good work of others and always receive your “well done” with a humble and gracious “thank you.”
You never know how God may use you to spread the Good News in the language of love, with generosity, and from a heart of humility.
The pompous scribes prioritized the way they looked and people’s approval of them.
Do you demand that others to give us praise?
Here is a simple test: Do you find yourself needing to compare yourself, your stories, your experiences in the course of conversations more than you listen to others? You know, having to “one up” the conversation?
Instead of seeking the approval of people, seek God’s approval. That means being patient, being humble, and sometimes never getting worldly recognition.
However, when others comment on your achievements, respond with humility. Don’t deflect, but say thank you and, perhaps note, “It’s all because of Jesus.”
(Consider including a short drama or skit depicting the self-important scribes in a modern setting.)