Grace of a Widow
Daily Reading: (Luke 20:45-47, 21:1-6):
While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
The Temple Treasury where the people are giving is lavish and I am most certain that the wealthy had their egos puffed up and left the Temple feeling very self-righteous. The Law also required the poor gave too.
“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others” (Luke 21:2-3). Jesus was teaching this publicly. This isn’t a private conversation, this was for all to hear. How do you think the wealthy man felt when hearing Jesus’ words “truly I tell you this poor widow has put in more than all the others.” Did Jesus just say that she gave more than I did? Well, percentagewise she did, by a lot. Grace will make the self-righteous incensed, and outraged.
“Out of her poverty she gave.” Another way to say this is she gave out of her lack. There is an important connection to the way this woman gave and the abundance we have in Christ and the fruit of generosity He produces in us.
So now we get insight into the minds of the disciples and how they were caught up in the beauty of the Temple. “Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said,“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down” (Luke 21:5-6).
In the New Testament there is no need for a Temple, for you and I are that Temple and God lives in us. There is no need for a place to sacrifice animals for our sins. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, was slain, so we might have our sins removed forevermore. Jesus is telling them this religious system is about to be completely changed.
Luke 21 should never have started at verse 1 because the point is missed if you don’t go to the previous chapter and include a few verses that come before it. “While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples,“Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely” (Luke 20:45-47).
Do you see this widow, she gave all that she had. Her house has been devoured by these teachers of the law who have guilted her and scared her into giving. The Law says that “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless” (Exodus 22:21).
Deuteronomy 26:12: “When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.”
Why does the widow have nothing? Because you have been devouring widow’s houses, you religious leaders.
James 1:27 in the New Testament says: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Jesus made this statement about the widow and her giving to train His disciples (who would be the leaders of the church) not to fall into this trap to take from those in need, but instead to give and support them. Jesus gave the “men in long robes” the chance to see the error of their ways and repent. Jesus also did this so the poor widows would understand that God is not after their money but is giving them what they need- providing the sacrificial offering through Jesus.
Today, be careful because since the dawn of religion, many religious leaders have been after people’s money. A law-preacher will compel you to give using the reward (“give and God will bless you”) and punishment (“stop robbing God”) through Old Testament verses taken out of context like Malachi 3. Such a message insults Jesus who made us eternally unpunishable and through whom we have received every blessing and have the favor of God. Don’t listen to a message that God will bless you based on your level of giving.
This place, the Temple is where the Israelites’ brought their tithes. The temple which was an Old Covenant shadow of Christ himself (see John 2:19-21). Paul Ellis said it this way, “I don’t work to earn God’s acceptance/favor (Christ has done it all), I don’t tithe (Christ is my tithe), I don’t “go” to church (I am the church).”
Christians are under no obligation to fulfill the command to tithe as given to the Israelites as part of the Mosaic Law. Tithe in both the Hebrew and the Greek means the same thing- to give a tenth. Should you tithe (give a tenth)?
The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. In Genesis 14 we have a compare and contrast between grace and the law found through two different kings, the King of Sodom which means “burning” that’s what happened to the Temple and Melchizedek King of Salem “peace”.
What do we learn from this?
If you are thinking, “God gives us grace so we can tithe,” you’ve missed Melchizedek and found Sodom. Melchizedek does not appear for the purpose of receiving money from Abram. He shows and he draws attention to God’s goodness. “God gave you…” And our righteous King Jesus, declares “You are blessed because God has given you … Me.” This is grace, and when you see it, you will respond with generosity because grace begets grace. I am so blessed by God, why wouldn’t I look for an opportunity to bless others? It’s not legalistic, and it goes beyond financial giving. We are enabled to give cheerfully out of the super abundance we have in Jesus Christ. Melchizidek the King is our righteousness. And He is the King of Salem (peace). It is Jesus’ righteousness given to us that gives us peace with God. For whoever has peace with God has His favor too (Luke 2:14). The widows gave in a way no one else did and it pointed to our time today with Jesus who is our tithe, gave us God’s acceptance/favor and because of that I get to live free. I get to live the abundant life to the full, a generous life.
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
When we understand that God is the able to make His grace abound to us, so that in all things, at all times, we will have what we need to abound in every good work, we will be able to give cheerfully.