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.Mark 12:43b-44
The religious performance among these scribes and Pharisees had reached such an absurd state of affairs that some of the Pharisees, before they made their contribution to the great collection box Jesus was watching here, actually summoned a trumpeter to go before them to get everybody's attention. Then the Pharisee would come up and proudly deposit a bag of gold in the treasury chest. He wanted everybody to see his ample gift.
I heard about a dear man standing up in a meeting where an offering was taken who said,
I want to give $100—anonymously. But in this passage Jesus said the one who really moved His heart and contributed tremendously to the kingdom of God was a little unnamed, unknown widow who had no influence, who had no outward posture of being worth anything. She came and put in two tiny coins that added up to no more than a penny; but because she loved the Lord her God with all her heart, all her soul, all her strength, and all her mind, she gave it. And Jesus said,
She has done more for the kingdom of heaven than all the outward performances of all these others combined. What is that saying to us?
We are so intent upon the fact that God wants some kind of activity on our part. We think that the way to serve God is to do spectacular or showy things—to win a lot of people to Christ or to give our time or work in open ways. Yet the Scriptures tell us over and over that works are just the channel. God wants performance, but only if the attitude of our heart is right. If you cannot do anything outwardly, your attitude may still be right—your attitude toward your neighbor and friends and your children and your husband and your wife and your boss and those who irritate you. If your attitude is one of love, love received from the God who loves you, then you are advancing the kingdom of God far, far more than all that is done outwardly by the greatest saints of our day and time.
Is that not amazing! God says,
You can serve me in the quiet of your home and by the gentle, sweet spirit that you display in the midst of pressures and problems. You have done more to advance the kingdom of God than those who get out and proclaim the word on public address systems everywhere. That is the way God sees life.
That is both discouraging and encouraging. It is discouraging for those of us who have a public ministry. We are mentally jotting down in the back of our minds how impressed God ought to be with our performance. But God is looking at our heart. This is encouraging for us to remember in those private moments when our attitude changes. Nobody was watching, nobody saw what we were thinking, yet, instead of being short and caustic and sarcastic, we were sweet and patient and gentle. Jesus says the kingdom of God is advanced by that attitude.
Lord, You have called me to this way of life, and You must empower it. Help me to be a loving instrument expressing Your quality of life today.
What is Jesus' view of pious religiosity? Why was it necessary for him to so severely denounce this sinful conduct in those proclaiming to know God? What's our attitude?