Luke 20:45-47 45 Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Luke 21:1-4 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
I was having a conversation with my Mother last week and she mentioned the widow’s mite and I felt compelled to go and reread it. Many times I have heard people quote this story as if it were another of Jesus’ parables and say things like “The Widow was more blessed than all the rest because she gave everything she had to God!” I have heard this story used to say that we should give our all to God.
While it is true that we should give ourselves fully over to God I don’t believe that it is in God’s nature, nor is it in scripture that God would like people to starve in order to pay tithe. In fact, if you look at Luke 20:45-47, it is pretty obvious that Jesus is condemning the scribes for “devouring the widow’s houses”. Now, I look at that along with Luke 21:1-4 where Jesus is standing there and observing this woman put in all she had to live on and it seems that Jesus is saying that the scribes are actually at fault for making this poor woman believe that in order to be accepted by God she needs to give everything she has to live on…even if it means she must starve.
Now there are other places that we can go in scripture to back up the idea that God takes care of his people and he puts the people and their well being above following the law.
For instance: Mark 2:23-27
23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him?
26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
(1Samuel 21:7 for the scripture about David and his men.)
When we look at Matthew 5:3 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Many times you will hear folks say, “Blessed are the Poor” and then leave it at that…the complete statement is Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now that is a completely different idea…there is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount which is talking about wealth or poverty of material goods. Everything is talking about attitude toward God and toward others in life.
When I read the idea of the Poor in Spirit…I think it is about being selfless in your attitude in life. You are always looking toward the needs of others, and what God wants you to do…not always yelling about yourself and your rights in this world. That is what it means to me when I read the “poor in spirit” statement.
God continually condemns self centered people who walk all over or manipulate others for their own gain! There is a lot of misconception about wealth in the world of Christianity. The reason misconception continues is that there are many Christians who do not read the Word of God for themselves and study it. Relying solely on someone in the pulpit to tell you how to be a Christian is a huge error! There are a lot of folks who take things out of context and support their beliefs instead of taking it in the context in which it was written and finding out what God is really like.
There are very sincere Christians in all walks of life..both wealthy and poor…God has no problem with the level of your pocket book….only if you love your wealth more than you love him and those around you is there a problem. The Bible says, “Love of money is the root of all evil”, not: “money is the root of all evil.”
1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
This is why the scribes were condemned…it was love of themselves and love of money to the point where they actually “devoured widow’s houses”. They were hypocrites in the worst way, they gave “some” of their wealth, but made the widow feel that she had to give “all” of her goods in order to measure up.
Have you ever done that? Seen that someone was giving a lot and so felt the need to put more in than you could really afford…more than you had previously decided on because the amount you were able to give seemed “insignificant” by comparison to what you knew the other person was giving?!! God says that he loves a cheerful giver…he wants you to give what you feel you can… to honor him. He does not want you comparing yourself with the person next to you. He wants your love and trust in him. That is why it is best if all giving is done quietly and personally.
I went to a large church as a visitor with someone once, and that person told me that whenever they went to their church they felt that they should always bring the “checkbook”; when I attended with them I understood why they felt that way…the buckets (literally) were passed about 5 times down the aisles during their worship! Now some folks who are new or unsure of their Christianity would feel pressured to always put something in each time it was passed in order to not be “embarrassed”…I wonder what Jesus would think of his followers treating his sheep like that in his name?!! Well, we don’t have far to look…looking again at the verses in Luke 20 and Luke 21 above it seems clear how Jesus would feel about these things.
The Bible is very clear on the status of widows and orphans from Old Testament through New Testament the attitude is the same. Those who are most vulnerable in society should be protected and cared for either by their relatives or by the church if there are no relatives to care for them.
Exodus 22:22-23King James Version (KJV)
22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;