Hey, one other quick thing before we jump into our passage for the day..
Next week, as we go to 2 services, we’ll also be kicking off a brand-new summer series
(LIFE OF ELIJAH SERIES SLIDE)
This summer, we’re going to be taking a break from the Book of Luke to study the Life of Elijah the Prophet in the Old Testament.
If you’ve read about Elijah before, or even if you have no clue who he is, I think you’re going to love this.
He’s a passionate guy, a fiery guy, who’s crying out to a culture that’s walking away from God.
And yet, in the midst of it, he has his own struggles of faith too.
It’s going to be an extremely really relevant series for where we are right now
So don’t miss the start of that next Sunday
Okay, let’s jump into our Bible passage in the Book of Luke today
I’ll come out and tell you right away, this passage is about money, so we’re talking about money today
But calm down for a second.
If you’ve been around here, you know, that we’re just going verse-by-verse through the Book of Luke in the Bible, and this is the next passage.
Our staff didn’t sit down say, “You know what would be fun, let’s talk about money!”
I always tell people, the 3 most common topics that Jesus talked about were The Kingdom of God, Hell, and money…
…so if you don’t like this teaching, I encourage you to take it up with Jesus ☺
All right, let’s read our passage from God’s Word
(Luke 21:1-4) - NIV
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Okay, before we start applying this, let me give you some historical background on this.
Jesus was observing people give financial offerings to the “temple treasury” in Jerusalem
We know from Jewish writings that at the Temple, there were 13 different chests for people to give their offerings to.
And the chests had a bronze funnel on top of them to guide the coins into the box.
So guess what, when the rich people started dumping their coins in the metal funnel, everyone heard it.
It’s like, at the casino, (I’m sure you’ve never been but have seen it on TV ☺), when somebody wins a big payout and the coins are raining down, everyone looks.
So everyone’s watching the rich people loudly empty their full bag of coins into the temple treasury.
But along comes the poor widow.
She puts in 2 copper coins.
The Greek says they were a coin called “lepton,”
Archaeologists have actually discovered these…take a look at how small they really were.
We also know in modern times that these coins would be worth about 1 or 2 dollars.
Let’s just call them a buck 50.
She puts in 2 coins, so about 3 dollars into the treasury.
And that’s literally all she had.
FOR THOSE ALREADY GIVING
Okay, so now that we understand the background a bit better, let’s try and dig in to what our Lord, Jesus, is teaching us.
The heart of His teaching is in verse 4.
Let’s take another look:
(Luke 21:4) - NIV
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Notice that it’s not about how much she gave, as the woman clearly gave less than the rich people who were loudly emptying their bags into the treasury…
It’s about how generously she gave.
In fact, I want to draw out two different points of application here for two different groups of people that may be listening to this
A POINT OF APPLICATION FOR TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS
1: If you’re already giving, are you giving generously?
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed something really interesting whenever we’ve covering a passage on giving or financial stewardship.
There’s a group of people that always tune out these types of messages (and it’s not who you think!)
The people who are most likely to tune out this message today are, surprisingly, the people who already tithe.
In Christianity, we use this word (tithing) because it means giving a tenth of your income back to God (which is the baseline of generosity for us as Christ-followers.
And I find that many who tithe hear a message like this begin, and say, “Oh, I got this. Yep, check. Done that. What’s going on on Facebook right now?
We have this idea in modern Christianity that tithing is just a mark you hit, and then you can stop thinking about it.
But that’s not how Jesus, or any author in the New Testament ever describes financial stewardship
Sure, yes, tithing (10%), is a helpful mark, a baseline if you will, but if we just set it up, and never think about it again, we’re probably missing the point of Jesus’ teachings.
Think about the questions Jesus is raising with this passage:
One of the big ones is does God have your whole life? All of it?
Because this woman…gave everything.
That doesn’t mean you need to give 100% of your money away (I mean you might), but your life is 100% God’s.
Your life isn’t 10% His and then the rest of the 90% God’s not allowed to touch.
And we don’t designate our money that way either.
God might be calling you to give 20% of your finances away
He might be calling you to tithe 10%, and then support a missionary on top of that, or help out a friend in need.
But the truth is, we’re not supposed to live as if we’ve checked a box, and then forget about it.
That’s how the Pharisees lived, not the followers of Jesus.
Followers of Jesus are to make their whole life available for God to use however He sees fit.
So if you haven’t talked to God about this in a long time, start talking to Him about it again.
Here’s a dangerous prayer for you:
“Lord, because my whole life is yours, how can I become more generous or where else can I be generous?”
And there is something really powerful about living a generous and sacrificial life that is fully offered, and fully available to God.
Many of you gave sacrificially for the very first time when we raised money to buy this land…or to build this building.
I talked to many people in those days who put off vacations, they put off getting a different car, or they generously gave their raises or bonuses they got at work, etc.
And it was worth it.
I gotta tell you, multiple times in the past 3 months, people have got to watch their spouses come to Christ in a service here.
Can you even imagine what that would feel like?
And I want to say to those of you who sacrificed to make this all happen…it was worth it.
And those who have watched their spouses come to Christ, and whose gazes have now gone to their children who will now grow up with both parents teaching them about Jesus…
They are forever grateful to your generous sacrifice.
And so I challenge you, bring this topic up with God again.
Say, “God, am I living like my whole life is available for your purposes, or did I just check a box?”
FOR THOSE NOT YET GIVING
Okay, let me talk to a second group here.
To those of you who have not yet taken the steps to be generous with your finances.
And, let me say again, this is the teaching from Jesus.
Renovation Church isn’t out to get your finances or something.
If you’re worried about that, I will give you a list of great churches in the North Metro to give your money to instead of here.
I just want you to be faithful to God and his Word.
That’s what matters most.
Okay, let’s take a look at the second point.
A POINT OF APPLICATION FOR TWO DIFFERENT GROUPS
1: If you’re already giving, are you giving generously?
2: If you’re not really giving, avoid saying, “I’ll give when I have more.”
This is the great lie that so many of us tell ourselves.
We say, “yes, I agree, it’s good to give back to God and what He’s doing, but I don’t have the ability to do that right now.”
I’ll start giving, or I’ll start tithing, when I make more
Or when my student loans are paid off
Or the car is paid off
Or when the kids are out of daycare
Or…you name it.
And Jesus shuts down every rationalization we’ve ever had by giving us the illustration of the lady who had 3 dollars and gave it away.
So, there’s that. ☺
And it’s not just that, there have been a number of sociological studies over the past few decades that have proved this common refrain of, “I’ll give more when I have more,” to be completely false.
All of these studies have proven that the more you have, the less likely you are to be generous.
Because money, in many ways, can put this vice grip on your heart, and the more you get of it, the tighter it will squeeze…
…and it will say, “You NEED me! Don’t give me away.”
And so the opposite is actually true here.
It’s not, “I’ll give more when I have more.”
The principle ought to be, “I better start the habit of giving before I get more.” ☺
And let me give you another reason not to say, “I’ll give when I have more,” or, “I’ll tithe when I’m done paying for a, b, or c.”
The teaching of the New Testament when it comes to this topic is that it’s not about an amount, but about your heart.
God does not need your money.
He’s not going, “Ugh, if the Smith’s and Anderson’s and Johnson’s would just give, then I could finally do what I need to do, but I guess I’ll just have to wait!”
I mean, yes, God will use what you give, absolutely.
But this is ultimately about your heart.
Think of it this way: Imagine for a second that it’s your birthday…
And let’s say you have a child.
And that child decides they’re going to get you something for your birthday
But they don’t really have any money, nor do they have much time because they’re so busy playing or hanging out or you name it.
So they go into the basement, grab the first thing they see, which is a toy they no longer need or play with, something that they won’t even miss..
..they wrap it up and give it to you.
How do you feel?
Now because you are wise, you recognize that all they’re doing is just fulfilling a duty.
“Oh, it’s my parent’s birthday, I’m obligated to give them a gift. Here’s something I won’t really miss. Here you go!”
And many of us give to God like that.
Okay, same situation, let’s say now different child
Let’s say your second child goes into their room and smashes their piggy bank, and takes their savings from the last 2 years to buy you a gift.
Or your third child, maybe your youngest that doesn’t even have money, wraps up their most prized possession, maybe a cherished stuff animal, and gives it to you.
And they say, “I love it so much, but I love you even more and wanted to give you something special.”
Now do you see what Jesus is teaching about generosity?
He wants us to move our focus off of the money and onto the heart.
The money, and the sacrifice of it, is revelatory of our heart for him.
A heart that truly knows how good God is, will give like it.
That’s a hard word, but it’s a Biblical word…a true word.
And when you truly turn your heart over to God, the rest of your life will come with it
Your time, your schedule, even your finances.
Verse 4 says that the woman, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.
The Greek, in which this was written, says she put in her “bios”
Bios = Life
This is where we get Bi-ology from…the study of life.
She put in…her life.
She gave her whole life to God.
Her offering was…her life.
That’s what Jesus likes about it
But in modern day, when we think about which parts of our life we will let God have control of, we tend to just give out of margin.
We, like the rich in this passage, usually only give what we will not miss, while this woman has made her whole life available to God.
Whether it be in finances, or talent, or time, we tend to only give what we can afford to give without losing control over anything.
We say, “God I trust you, but only if it isn’t risky. Only if I still feel like I’m in control.”
That isn’t trust. It’s not obedience either. It’s not even faith.
This woman offered her life.
It’s not lost on me that God has us in this passage today, as a couple from our family is packing up their lives and their young children…and moving to live in challenging conditions overseas
A talented couple, that certainly could have succeeded here in the corporate world, but instead spent the last few years living in one of their parent’s basement with their two kids, so they could raise the money to bring the Gospel to the poor and hurting of Eastern Europe.
But they know that they know that they know, that their life is for God…and they’ve offered their LIFE to Him (they’ve made it all available to Him), and this is where He’s called them.
And that doesn’t mean He’s calling you to do the same thing.
But I wonder sometimes how much we miss out on simply because we’re only willing to surrender PART of our lives to Him.
We only surrender the parts that don’t feel risky
And I sometimes think that Jesus talks about finances so much because giving of your finances is one of the most practical ways that you can actually take a step forward in offering more of your life to Him
I urge you to do so.
Let me tell you a story: You know, there was once a man named Charles Blondin, who was a famous French tightrope walker.
On June 30, 1859, Charles Blondin walked across Niagra Falls on a tightrope
There was a big crowd; ten thousand people showed up.
In the subsequent weeks, he wowed crowds with ever more daring feats:
One week, he went across with a sack on his head.
One week, he bicycled across.
One time he stood on his head.
One time he did somersaults.
One week, in a wheelbarrow he put a stove with a fire in it, and he took it out to the middle, and he made himself an omelet, ate it, and came back.
But Blondin knew he had to keep outdoing himself, so they announced he was going to carry a man across on his back.
They advertised in the paper and said, “One thousand dollars to any man who is willing to come and be recruited to go across.”
A lot of people showed up for the recruitment trial.
Blondin went out to showed he could do it by carrying a 200 pound sack on his back
Then, he came back, and he asked all of the people:
“Do you believe without a doubt that I could carry a person across?”
One after the other, after the other, everyone said, “Absolutely, no doubts.”
Then, he went down the line and said to each, “Will you let me carry you across the Niagara Falls on the rope?”
One after another, after another, said, “No, I won’t,” and they all left.
But they had already advertised it, and there was a huge crowd coming, so Blondin turned to his manager, and says, “Harry, it’s going to have to be you. Everybody is showing up. We have to do it.”
Harry (the manger) was terrified, but he did it.
Halfway across Niagra Falls, the manager was scared, so Blondin ended up starting to sway a bit
Whenever Blondin would sway, his manager (on his back) would start to sway back and try to counterbalance (which is exactly what you don’t want to do)
So Blondin yelled to his manager, over the surging waters 160 feet below, to his manager, and he said, “Harry, until I clear this place, you must become part of me … mind, body, and soul. If I sway, you must rest in me completely and sway completely with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we shall both go down to our death.”
In other words, If you try and save yourself, and do it your way…you won’t make it.
You have to fully rest in me.
And they made in across!
And that is the call of Jesus on your life.
And it’s easy to intellectually agree with what the Bible teaches.
Like the people in the crowd that day, “Sure, yeah, we believe you could us carry across.”
But it’s a different thing entirely to actually walk out in faith and get on his back.
And Jesus is calling you to actually walk out trusting Him in all things.
To get on his back, and fully trust Him with all of your life.
And if you’ve never followed Him before, there is no greater, and no better choice than to do so.
The reason we can give our life away to Jesus is because He once gave His life for ours.
He died on the cross for your sins.
And if you believe that He died to save you, and you commit to follow Him…to let Him be the leader of your life…to turn your life over to Him…you will be saved.
Saved from hell and the paying the punishment for your sins.
It’s one thing to say, “yeah, I believe that would be good to offer my life to Him”
It’s another thing entirely to actually do it.
But God calls you to come, turn your life over to Him, and walk with Him in faith.
And if you’re ready to do that for the first time, I urge you to do it today.
In fact, we’re going to sing a final song of worship, and then when the service is over today, I’m going to sit right up here on the stage.
And if you’re ready to believe in Jesus for the first time, and surrender your life over to Him, just come up and chat with me up here after the service.
And I’ll get you started on how to do that.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.