What is it about giving money to the church that always seems to rile up folks? Do people think the parish runs on good intentions? Why is this topic one of the top subjects in the scriptures and one of the most controversial topics even today?
To be honest, it has little to do with actual giving, and even less to do with money itself. The reason financial support of the Church causes so much controversy and the reason why giving in the Church takes up so much time in the day-to-day operation of a parish community is that this subject touches us at a fundamental place in our lives. It touches us in the place where we are afraid for our survival, whether real or imagined. You see, our money, our resources, our time, and our possessions, are all icons in the lives of our security and safety. They represent our ability to care for ourselves and our families. Properly understood, they are never “ends in themselves,” but are always seen as tools to help us and support our journey in life. Because of that, HOW you use your resources reflects WHO you are and WHAT you truly value.
Our use of our possessions serves as a spiritual diagnostic of our real loves, our spiritual maturity, and our deepest held values. Our money, our possessions, our time, our abilities, and how we use them, are absolute revelations of the real truth about ourselves.
Look at our Lesson today in Luke 20:46-47; 21:1-4:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” Having said this, he proclaimed, “He who has ears let him hear.”
As you know, we are moving towards Meatfare Sunday (the Sunday of the Last Judgement) this weekend. And we are focusing on our Gospel lessons and their insight into how to have a spiritually profitable Lent so we will be truly ready for Pascha! And today the Church calls us to look at The Widow’s Test to determine the condition of our hearts and just where we need to repent! We know the scene well. The rich were giving from their abundance, but the widow came and gave everything she had, throwing herself at God’s mercy for her survival. If you asked me, she chose the safest path because temporary riches have a way of disappearing. Just ask anyone who plays the stock market!
You see, God doesn’t measure the size of your devotion by what you give. That wouldn’t tell the real truth of the heart of your faith. No, the Lord looks at what you keep back for yourself as the perfect barometer of your trust in Him and your true confidence in eternal realities. If we truly believe as we say in the Creed that we expect the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come, then the confidence in our own strength to thrive in this temporary life now will accurately be seen in how we invest our time, talents, and treasures of this gift of life in doing eternal work. The Widow’s Test uncovers our true ability to trust. It uncovers (if we have the courage to see it) just where the discipline of Repentance and Forgiveness needs to be applied!
St. Theodore, whom we remember today, was a new recruit in the Roman army and boldly proclaimed himself a Christian, knowing full well what his faith meant and what it meant to stand firm for Christ at this time in Roman history. His commander asked Theodore to go and take some time and come back with his final answer. Theodore counted the cost and he set fire to the pagan temple to the goddess Cybele, the “mother of the gods.” For this bold act, Theodore was killed as a witness for Christ. He counted the cost and determined that nothing, not even his very life, was more valuable than his communion with Christ!
Today, what you give to support eternal truths and eternal values isn’t measured by amounts of time, money, or expertise. It’s measured by what you keep back for yourself. In God’s economy, He places greater value on devoted love and even sacrificial giving, not because He “needs” the gift (a silly notion, really) but because your prioritizing eternal values over temporary comforts or luxuries reveals your real confidence in the “life of the age to come.” The spiritual discipline of giving isn’t about the amount, but about the heart of trust and confidence to live Orthodox on Purpose! Here’s praying for you to learn how to pass The Widow’s Test, especially as we prepare to enter Great Lent!
P.S. Having received the Faith of Christ in your heart as a breastplate, you did trample upon the enemy hosts, O much-suffering champion; and you have been crowned eternally with a heavenly crown, since you are invincible.
If you would like to support our work, please click the picture below and join the friends who make Faith Encouraged possible.
“Today, what you give to support eternal truths and eternal values isn’t measured by amounts of time, money, or expertise. It’s measured by what you keep back for yourself.”
This is another way of stating the identical, I would purpose another reason as to what Jesus was stating of the Widow, She had little, what she had would not benefit her greatly, but to cast all she had, was to cast her entire life, as a one time, “This is my worth”, this is my measured value. God states in Malachi, not only to they- who have much, but places the value of the widow, not by the ‘little or much’, but the ‘How’ she gave- as opposed to the blaring announcement- waving their tithe in the air for all to view, and after 2,000 years, we are still beholding their amount, to the which they gave in Disobedience, therefore God stated that these, even this ‘Whole Nation’ had committed ‘robbery’ they had stolen, not persay against God, but against God’s small children, and in robbing these, they had robbed God Himself [Malachi 3:6-15 (esp14)-]. How declare we?
Jesus Christ told us, gave us, the tithe given that brings reward, refused today (and bringing in the Beast) by most churches.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
[Anything ‘other than’ this, is-and reveals, a lack of faith, by the tither, the giver, and an open ‘disobedience, a rebellion’, toward Christ Jesus, noted again, by the Father In Malachi 3.
Whatever the church ‘wants or chooses’ to believe an “Alm” is- is an odd, One thing stands forth, whatever the alms ‘is/are’- they are to be ‘rendered’ in secret, so that the left hand- is kept from the right hand- and ‘everybody’ has these alms. The more electronic the tithe, the bringing forward of the Beast is occurring: Digital Currency.
He is the (lower case ‘p’) “prince of the power of the air” electricity, telephone poles, Cell phones, Internet etc…, Identifiable descriptions: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this *world, according to the *prince of the *power of the *air, the *spirit that now worketh in the *children of *disobedience:
Among whom also *we all had our *conversation in times past in the *lusts of *our *flesh, fulfilling the *desires of the *flesh and of the *mind; and were by *nature the *children of *wrath, even as *others.”
Whoever ‘he’ is, he got bird!!
Each *tells ‘his’ story (*) Who- ‘he’??? There’s only one is he the LORD or is ‘he’ the serpent- whoever ‘he’ was- ‘You’ obeyed he before you became Christian; What power ‘he’?? Have??
“Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”
Oddity In Life-The Simpler The Harder To Obey
“And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” II Kings 5