Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians 13:1-3’ Category

She Loved With All Her Mite

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
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Grace, Mercy and Peace are yours, from God our Father and for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ!  AMEN

44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.”  Thus far our text.

Introduction:  The story is told of a very wealthy man who had never been known for his generosity to the church. The church was involved in a big financial program and they resolved to pay him a visit. When the committee met with the man one afternoon, they said that in view of his considerable resources they were sure that he would like to make a substantial contribution to this program.

“I see,” he said, “so you have it all figured out have you? In the course of your investigation did you discover that I have a widowed mother who has no other means of support but me?” No, they responded, they did not know that.  “Did you know that I have a sister who was left by a drunken husband with five children and no means to provide for them?” No, they said, we did not know that either. “Well, gentlemen, did you know also that I have a brother who is crippled due to an automobile accident and can never work another day to support his wife and family?” Embarrassingly, they responded, no sir, we did not know that either. “Well,” he thundered triumphantly, “I’ve never given any of them a cent so why should I give anything to you?”

Giving is easier for some than others.  Some give liberally but others seem to be challenged and even overcome with the worries and demands of life. 

I.  For a few moments this evening I do not want to talk about dollar amounts that are given to the church but instead let’s talk about motivation. Why do we do what we do? What is the motivation behind our giving?

Our gospel reading this evening has been called the story of the widow’s mite. Many of you are familiar with this event in the life of our Lord in which a widow gave all the money she had in a Temple offering and thereby received the praise of the Master of Life himself. The story is generally perceived to be one about giving and clearly that element is there. In terms of the actual amount that she gave it was a mere penance. Less than one penny in today’s money. The extravagance in it was that it represented all the money she had.

But there is another element to this story that perhaps we fail to see. Jesus had just been watching the Pharisees in their giving practices. Now, we are talking big bucks. And they were quite open about their giving. Everyone knew their giving record; indeed, they made a point that everyone knew it. It was in the light of that that Jesus pointed out this widow. Picture Jesus sitting now with the leaders of the temple—the Sadducees—observing the people as they come in and watching their donations. There is no paper money so it all makes a terrible noise as it rolls down this long horn shaped object and falls into the pool of coins. So here comes this little old lady and she has two small coins and she drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. So, at its heart, the widow’s mite is not a story about giving, but rather it is a story about motivation. Why do we do what we do? What do we hope to achieve by our giving? The Pharisees and Sadducees gave to receive peer recognition. And, Jesus said that they had already received their reward. People praised them. The woman, on the other hand, she gave out of love for God. According to Jesus, she also received her reward, peace with God.

II.   What can we learn from this?  Jesus watches us from a location opposite of where we place our attention.  He sees what others can not; specifically He sees into our hearts.   He notices the rich and the poor; the important and the simple.  Jesus pays special attention to those things that are most important to us, because they are what motivates every thing else that we do in this life.  While I do not know everything that Jesus sees within my own heart, I do know what he hopes to find in all of our hearts.  He hopes to find a heart that is like the widow’s; a heart that seeks to find and maintain a relationship of trustful dependency on Him.  That is a relationship he desires to bless and develop.  This relationship is sustained by faith, but it is born in love.

 

III. Love is what led the widow to give all that she had to the Lord.  Love is the natural response of a forgiven sinner.  And love is what naturally motivates us to give our time, talents and yes even our money to the Lord.  These words may have made you a bit uncomfortable.  We want to know, “How much shall I give?”  Suffice to say, the Gospel’s advice is that ‘We should give according to the dictates of our own hearts,’ and that brings me back on topic.

 

Do you remember when Jesus asked St. Peter shortly before He ascended into heaven, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”  And Peter answered, “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” What did Jesus say next?  “Feed my sheep.”  Did you ever wonder why Jesus asked him three times?  He did this because He wanted to emphasize to Peter and to us the importance of the question.  In this question and in the story of the Widow’s mite, Jesus is asking us to look within our hearts and discover what things are really most important to us, and if our love for Him truly is our first priority, then he asks us to respond with our actions by “Feeding His Sheep.”  Do you hear Him in your heart speaking to you this evening: ‘Dear Saints at Trinity, do you love me?  Do you trust me?  Do you realize that your church is really my Church?  Then feed my sheep.  My sheep are fed the Words of eternal life right here at Trinity, and right outside your doors in the communities of Encanto, Jamacha, Lemmon Grove and Spring Valley.  Friend, do you love me?  Do you understand that my sheep through Holy Baptism have been given assurance that a seat has been reserved for them at my Father’s table, just as has been done for you?  Then feed my sheep.  Friend, do you truly love me?  Then you must know that my sheep are sustained by my very body and blood at my table right here in this church, just as you are.  Feed my sheep.’ 

CONCLUSION:  Friends, since we truly love God, then we will love the place where he faithfully meets us in Word and Sacrament.  Since Jesus has truly saved us from our sin and eternal separation from God, let’s respond through love, by dedicating all that we have to Him who first loved us! 

  Now may this love and peace that surpasses all understanding be yours, for Christ’s sake…AMEN