The Book of Mark
THE WIDOW AND HER TWO MITES
Text: MARK 12:41-44
1. This interesting story is also found in Luke 21.
2. As our Lord watched the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury of the temple, He was struck by the contrast between the rich and “a certain poor widow” (12:41, 42).
3. They gave what cost them little or nothing; she gave all that she had.
4. As we look at the context here in our text tonight, we are reminded that this interesting story immediately follows our Lord’s warning concerning the greedy and hypocritical scribes (cf. 12:38-40).
5. Furthermore, it is followed by Mark 13:1, “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”
6. Who adorned the temple? Who gave these costly gifts? (Cf. II Samuel 24:21-25; I Chron. 29:6-9).
7. “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (I Chron. 29:9).
8. King David said unto Araunah, “Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.”
9. It was a beautiful temple, but someone had to pay for it.
10. Our Lord was teaching in the outer court, and from there He passed through into the treasury area which stood before the sanctuary. In this court were 13 golden chests shaped like trumpets, with a large opening at the top to receive the coins.
11. Each chest bore an inscription indicating the use to which its contents would be put. This is similar to our church where we designate our tithes and special offerings – building fund, faith promise missions, etc. As I give out the exposition, it is my prayer that we do not miss the application.
I. OUR LORD KEEPS HIS EYE UPON THE TREASURY (12:41)
1. If our Lord was watching closely back then, we can be sure that He is watching us just as closely each and every Sunday (12:41, 42).
2. Jesus knows every coin and every dollar and every check that is cast into the offering basket. He knows how they come and how they go.
3. “Upon all giving, there rests the light of a Divine scrutiny and appraisement” (G. Campbell Morgan).
4. A couple of years ago, some of our ushers told me that some people were taking $1 bills and folding them into little squares and putting them into the offering.
5. Frankly, I think that is an insult to God.
6. Our Lord knows where the $1 bills are and the $100 bills, the nickels and dimes, the big checks and the little checks. Are you concerned with what He thinks?
7. He gave His life for you, and are you now robbing Him? (Mal. 3:8).
8. Frances Havergal wrote that beautiful song:
“I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I
9. Another well-known hymn written by Frances Havergal is:
Take my life, and let it be
10. One line of that song:
“Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.”
11. In August, 1878, Frances Havergal wrote to a friend: “The Lord has shown me another little step, and of course I have taken it with extreme delight. ‘Take my silver and my gold,’ now means shipping off all my ornaments to the Church Missionary House (including a jewel cabinet that is really fit for a countess), where all will be accepted and disposed of for me…Nearly fifty articles are being packed up. I don’t think I ever packed a box with such pleasure.”
12. Miss Havergal had copies printed of her Consecration Hymn (“Take My Life and Let It Be”) which she gave sometimes at the end of a meeting, asking those who really meant it to get on their knees before God and sign their names on the blank line at the bottom of the paper.
13. Could you get on your knees and sign your name?
14. Can you sing with a sincere heart, “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold”?
15. Someone said that in some churches they ought to sing, “Take My Life and Let Me Be.”
16. And “I Surrender Some.”
17. And if some of our members were honest before God they would have to change some of the words to other hymns as well.
· There Shall Be Sprinkles of Blessings
· Fill My Spoon, Lord
· Oh, How I Like Jesus
· Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following
· Just As I Pretend to Be
· Have Mine Own Way Lord
· Turn Your Eyes Upon Money
· My Jesus I Love Me
· Seek Ye First the Kingdom of Self
18. I remember one time when Bro. Julio Torres was here, he told me that many Mexican people (maybe because of their Roman Catholic back-ground) throw only a few dollars into the offering and they call this limosna (charity). God does not say to give Him your charity or limosna, He says to bring your tithes and offerings.
19. Always remember that our Lord is watching and observing what people give just like He was back in the temple (12:41, 42).
20. Our Lord is concerned with what you give and He has a lot to say about giving.
21. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
II. IT IS NOT SO MUCH WHAT YOU PUT IN THAT MATTERS – IT IS WHAT YOU KEEP FOR YOURSELF THAT REALLY MATTERS
1. In value a mite was less than a cent. These two mites represented her living, not her surplus (12:43, 44).
2. Our Lord says that the others were all giving out of their “abundance” (12:44); but it is the poor widow that He commends because she gave sacrificially – “but she of her want did cast in all that she had” (12:44).
3. Do you have this kind of faith? Do you have this kind of devotion?
4. It may be true that there is no more vital index to one’s character than the way he gives to the Lord’s work.
5. The Lord estimates our giving, not by how much we give – it is how much we keep for ourselves. He judges our motives and He knows what is in our hearts. The Lord knows what is in the heart of man (cf. Matt. 6:19-21).
6. Referring to the widow and her two mites, Harry Ironside said, “We learn from this passage that heaven’s arithmetic – heaven’s method of bookkeeping – is altogether different from ours. We generally judge people by the amount of money they give. If a rich man gives a large sum we say he has given much; but if one brings in little we may pay scant attention to it. God’s way of reckoning is quite otherwise. He takes note, not so much of the amount given, as of what is left.”
7. The Bible is an immensely practical book and it has a lot to say about money and how God expects us to use it.
8. On occasion people ask me about giving, how much to give, should they tithe their gross income or net income, etc. Remember the widow and her two mites. Our Lord said she “did cast in all that she had” (12:44).
9. Her two mites might have been her day’s salary. Perhaps she went hungry that day because of her sacrificial giving. Remember what David said, “Neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (II Sam. 24:24).
10. Sacrificial giving does not mean that we give God every penny we have. We need to buy food, put gasoline in our cars, etc. But it is obvious that most Christians can give a lot more than they’re giving.
11. I read an article by Larry Burkette (a Christian financial counselor), and he showed statistics demonstrating that previous generations of Christians worked longer hours, made much less money, and yet gave much more to the Lord’s work.
12. Could it be that is why previous generations produced giants like CH Spurgeon and DL Moody and Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone, and our generation has produced con-men like Joel Ostein and Benny Hinn and Rick Warren?
13. We need to get our priorities right. First Timothy 6:7 says, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
14. A poet put it this way:
15. “Carve your name high over the shifting sand,
Where the steadfast rocks defy decay.
All you can hold in your cold, dead hand
Is what you have given away.”
16. The widow woman with her two mites understood this.
17. Most of you have probably never heard of the evangelist and songwriter Charles Weigle, but many of you have probably heard his famous song, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus.” He used to tell the true story about a man named W.L. Douglas, who went on to become a successful shoe manufacturer. Mr. Douglas had been unemployed for some time and was down to his last dollar. Sunday morning he put 50 cents into the offering plate at church. The next day, Monday morning, he heard about a job opportunity in a neighboring town. So he got on the train but the fare was a dollar. So he could only ride halfway. Mr. Douglas got off half-way and was getting ready to walk the rest of the way. He only walked one block when he learned of a factory near at hand that needed help. Within thirty minutes he had a job, closer to home, with a wage of $5 more a week than he would have received had he gone to the other town.
18. His first week’s paycheck brought back his 50 cents tenfold. Which brings me to my next point.
III. GOD CAN MARVELLOUSLY MULTIPLY OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS TO FURTHER THE GOSPEL
1. Mark 12:41 refers to the rich people who were able to contribute much, and yet our Lord says, “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury” (12:43).
2. You might think that your tithes and offerings cannot make much of a difference but they do. “Little is much when God is in it.”
3. There are small children who give 50 cents or $1 to faith promise, and the Lord uses that and multiplies it just like He did with the loaves and the fishes.
4. I wish I could spend time with this but I cannot right now. I heard a preacher explain this principle (he was not talking specifically about money) one time (cf. Lev. 26:3-13).
5. Please look at Lev. 26:8. If 5 men could chase 100, you would suppose that 100 men could chase 2,000 (5 times 20 = 100; and 100 times 20 = 2,000). But God says 10,000! This is what Harry Ironside calls “heaven’s arithmetic.”
6. If all our members do what God wants them to do, the blessings of God will multiply over and over (cf. Exodus 36:5-7; Luke 6:38).
7. The windows of heaven would open (Malachi 3:8-10).
8. Years ago there was a preacher named McCabe who was attempting to raise $1 million for missions. One day while going through his mail, he found a letter from a young boy and in the envelope there was a nickel. The letter read:
Dear Bro. McCabe:
I’m sure you’re going to get a million dollars for missions. And I’m going to help you get it too. So here’s a nickel toward it. It’s all I’ve got right now, but if you need any more, you just call on me.
This became one of Bro. McCabe’s most effective stories in his campaign to raise the money for missions, and by it he was eventually able to reach his goal. God used that boy’s nickel and multiplied it.
9. When you consider what it cost to build that great temple in Jerusalem, and how much it cost to sustain it, and how much it cost to support the priests and their families, and all of the other free-will offerings and charities – there were 13 chests for offerings in the temple; and yet our Lord considered the poor widow’s two mites more generous, more important, more significant than all of the other gifts that were given!
10. He called His disciples together to teach them about giving, using her as a great example of godly, sacrificial giving (12:43, 44).
1. At our teen meeting Friday night, Richard, a young Bible college student preached and he told a very interesting story about the famous missionary to Africa David Livingstone and his brother John.
2. While they were young men in Scotland, the two brothers discussed their life goals. John’s goal was to be rich and famous.
3. David’s goal was to be a missionary and devote his life to preaching the Gospel and winning souls.
4. David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa achieved his goal, and along the way (without seeking it) he became famous.
5. There have been hundreds of books written about his life. Several movies were made about his life. There are monuments and schools named after him all over Africa, Scotland, England, Canada, and America.
6. When I was a child, everyone was familiar with Henry Stanley’s famous question, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
7. From 1971–1998, David Livingstone’s picture was portrayed on sterling banknotes in the United Kingdom.
8. Everyone remembers the great David Livingstone. But what about his ambitious brother John?
9. John Livingstone became a successful businessman but today nothing is left of his wealth or fame. The epitaph on his tombstone reads: “Here lies the brother of David Livingstone.”