Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Widow's Mite (or the Pharisees Bite?)

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."
~ Mark 12:41-44 ~

The generosity of the widow is highlighted in this oft-quoted Scripture. Her relatively small gift makes the pompous giving of the rich pale in comparison. But, today I want to look at this passage of Scripture in a different light - thanks to the insight of my professor Dr. Wong Loi Sing at Moody Graduate School.

Looking at the context of the passage sheds new light on the meaning of Jesus' story.

Mark 12:38-40 "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 was indirectly attacking the Pharisees for their burdensome rules and regulations.

They were slaves to the rules out of vanity. Staying within their self-created "lines," allowed them to strut their stuff spiritually. They had missed the whole point of the law: to love the Lord first and to love others. Following the rules had actually caused them to break the spirit of God's law: LOVE.

They were so caught up in dotting their "i"s and crossing their "t"s, that they forgot that God's laws were made not for paper but for people. God's laws were intended to protect people from harm and especially those who cannot help themselves. God has always shown special care for the helpless: the poor, the orphans, widows and the destitute.

So, to get back to our verse today. The widow put in the LAST OF HER MONEY - why? To follow the burdensome laws of the Pharisees - which made them richer and her poorer. In effect - the story not only highlights the widow's generosity, but the Pharisees cold hearts in stealing from the helpless. They were "devouring widow's houses" - taking from those who had nothing to give. And for what? To fill their already well lined pockets and support their already inflated self-esteem.

The teachers in Jesus' day lorded it over the weak instead of loving the weak like God.

God calls us to care for the helpless and to prioritize LOVE over law.

Lord, may we never forget that Your Word is all about LOVE and extend a hand a love to everyone we meet.

"In Other Words" is now managed by Amy at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31 (instead of CWO) and today's host is hosted by Beloved Mama this week.


Julie said...

You have done a wonderful job expounding on this verse. It would be great fun to have you in a Bible study... wait I just did. Isn't IOW fun?

lori said...

WHAT a wonderful lesson here girl!
It was like sitting with you over coffee at my own private bible study..
what a great way to end my evening...
I am going to copy it and put it right in my Bible, in the proper place...:)
you done good girl! really good!:)

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing!

Denise said...

Beautifully done my friend, love you.

Amy said...

Wonderful post, Heather!

This is definitely a new perspective. I always love reading your posts!