Saturday, May 16, 2009

what real giving is

Mark 12:38-44

As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted 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. Such men will be punished most severely."

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-- all she had to live on."

The scriptural lesson isn't about dumping all your money into the church: the lesson is, instead, about what real giving means. Real giving is done in a spirit of true selflessness. Real giving doesn't ask for thank-yous. Real giving is about commitment-- large commitments of time and presence. How easy it is to give from one's bounty, to pat oneself on the back for a Job Well Done, to expect some sort of praise after having made a show of giving. We all do this sort of thing, and that's what makes such gestures merely common, not noble.


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