In our Generosity series we’ve talked about starter givers, steady givers, and scriptural givers. Some of you may identify as a one of these, but you know God is calling you to take the next step to sacrificial or supernatural giving. What is sacrificial? It is living a selfless life of generosity. It is focusing not so much on ourselves, but focusing on others. In Mark 12, we see what it means to be a sacrificial giver.
Where We Give
Verse 41 says, “Sitting across from the temple treasury, [Jesus] watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury.” The first place we give is where we worship. That pattern is consistent in the Old and New Testament. People gave the first where they worshipped – the altar, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and then, the local church. The Bible teaches tithes and offerings. Tithes go to your local place of worship, and offerings are given to other worthwhile Kingdom causes. The Bible says we “bring” or “return” the tithe because you cannot give what does not belong to you.
Let’s say you borrow a friend’s truck. You can’t keep it! You have to bring it back and return it. You return it cheerfully and gratefully. You don’t return it reluctantly saying, “I am going to give you this truck.” They will look at you like you have lost your mind and say, “You are not giving me anything because it was my truck to begin with!” The tithe is the Lord’s. He says the first is Mine. The tithe is just the starting place. Offerings are given above and beyond. Tammy and I personally practice this and have seen God’s blessing and faithfulness many times over.
What We Give
This passage picks up saying, “Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.’” The Bible teaches proportional giving. It is not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice. We should judge our giving not by the amount we give, but by how much we have left over. One-third of the world lives on $2 a day or less. Imagine going on a mission trip and speaking through an interpreter, explaining your financial pressure to the villagers: student loan, car payment, rent, phone payment… They would look at you like you are crazy because we are crazy! Andy Stanley says we are bad at being rich. Rich people give less. The national statistics show the more we have, the less we give proportionately. As your income increases your generosity should increase. The essence of generosity is sacrifice. It is doing without something. It is putting others first. The tithe is a good place to start, but a bad place to stop. God gave His best. Jesus gave His all. So should we.
Why We Give
This was probably not this widow’s first time to be generous. She had grown from being a starter giver to a steady giver to a scriptural giver to a sacrificial giver. God had proven Himself faithful to her over and over again! God will provide! She could have kept one coin and given one, but she had learned to walk by faith and not by sight. She learned you can’t out give God. She had seen His provision and gave out of gratitude. A sacrifice is given out of gratitude to God.
When we talk about giving, it’s not just the where and the what, but the why. Sacrificial givers move from what you have to do, to what you get to do. When you lose your why you will lose your way. When you start thinking wrong, you do wrong. Remind yourself of all the Lord has done for you. David said, I will not offer anything that cost me nothing. Jesus took our place. He gave His all. He asks for ours in return. In this story, we see that He is not looking at the portion, but the proportion.