Our Gospel reading this Sunday has two major divisions. Jesus provides warning on the first part and lessons on the second part. Let me share with you William Barclay’s thoughts and reflection as we try to collectively make the message of the Gospel alive in the midst of our community.
A warning against:
1. It warns against the desire for prominence. It is still true that a person accepts office in the church because he/she thinks he/she earns it, rather than because he/she desires to render selfless service to the house of the people of God. Many may still regard office in the church as a privilege rather than a responsibility and ministry.
2. It warns against the desire for deference. Almost everyone likes to be treated with respect. And yet a basic fact of Christianity is that it ought to make a person wish to obliterate self than to exalt it.
3. It warns against the attempt to make a traffic religion. It is possible to use religious connection for self-gain and self-advancement. But this is a warning to all who are in the church for what they can get out of it and not for what they can put into it.
A lesson to learn in giving:
1. Real giving must be sacrificial. The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice. Real generosity gives until it hurts. For many of us it is a real question if ever our giving to God’s work is any sacrifice at all. Few people will do without their pleasures to give a little more to the work of God. It may well be a sign of the decadence of the church and the failure of our Christianity that gifts have to be coaxed out of church people, and that often they will not give at all unless they get something back in the way of entertainment or of goods. There can be few of us who read this story without shame.
2. Real Giving has a certain recklessness in it. The woman might have kept one coin. It would not have been much but it would have been something, yet she gave everything she had. There is a great symbolic truth here. It is our tragedy that there is so often some part of our lives, some part of our activities, some part of ourselves which we do not give to Christ. Somehow there is nearly always something we hold back. We rarely make the final sacrifice and the final surrender.
3. It is a strange and lovely thing that the person whom the New Testament and Jesus hand down to history as a pattern of generosity was a person who gave a gift of half a farthing or the least possible amount. We may feel that we have not much in the way of material gifts or personal gifts to Christ, but, if we put all that we have and are at his disposal, he can do things with it and with us that are beyond our imaginings.