Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Widow’s Mite

The widow who gave her last two mites is usually held up as a virtuous example of generous giving. 

Mark 12:41-44
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.  And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

But I'm wondering if that is the purpose of the story. Is she really supposed to be an example of how the Pharisees were robbing widows? Could it be that the Pharisees were manipulating people with verses like Malachi 3:10 to squeeze all the money out of them that they could in exchange for blessings of some kind? That would be similar to the Word of Faith teachers today who want their gullible followers to send them all the money they can swindle out of them in exchange for their valuable prayers.

When you say she is usually held up as a virtuous example of generous giving, it depends upon who is doing that.  It is usually the health/wealth/prosperity people who want you to give everything to God (which actually means ‘give it to them’).  We need to look at her giving in context.  Right before that Christ is condemning the scribes and Pharisees.

Mark 12:38-40
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

The poor widow gave all she had.  Not only did she not have a husband, but she probably did not have any sons or children who could provide for her.  Part of her motivation for giving her last could have been that she was told to do that by these Pharisees who were robbing widows and devouring their houses.  That very well could be it.

But also because the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and the Lord was going about letting Israel know they should sell all they have, give alms and follow him.

Luke 12:33
Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

Luke 18:22
 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

We don’t know if she heard the Lord teach and preach those things.  It is very likely that she knew about the Pharisees’ doctrine that if widows would give to the temple (them), they would pray for them.  You know how religious people are...  ‘Give us your money and God will bless you.’

The Lord was taking notice of that, just like God does when religious leaders do that today.  So it could very well be the case that she is an example of how the Pharisees were robbing widows.  It could be that they were convincing these women to give all that they had.

Again, once the Lord showed up, he was telling them to sell all they had and give alms and follow him.  But in the context we don’t see her following him.  The Lord takes notice of her and speaks well of her because they gave out of their abundance, but she gave from her poverty.

The dynamic of what is happening is interesting.  She could have been giving because of the satanic influence of those Pharisees who desired to devour her house; but it is more likely that her motivation was in obedience to the Lord to give and follow him.

+ + + +
Malachi 3:10
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Sure, it is possible that the Pharisees were taking this verse out of context to manipulate people, because it has to do with tithes and offerings which were not money; they were from the fruit of their land.   The only time their tithes and offerings would be actual money was if they lived too far from Jerusalem to bring their first fruits.  They would exchange their first fruits for money and carry it to Jerusalem and exchange it there for an offering.

But no doubt these apostate religious leaders would manipulate people.  Religion manipulates in order to extort money out of people, whether it is Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventist, Christian Science or the religious system of Christianity – Christendom, the denominational system.

Matthew 23:25
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Every religious system manipulates, particularly the ones that use the Bible.  Anyone who uses verses about giving that are not Pauline (pure grace giving), is handling the word of God deceitfully.

2 Corinthians 4:2
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

Most people in denominational systems today use Malachi 3:8-10 to get you to tithe (which was never money), to squeeze money out of you.  But when Christians give today God only desires one thing – that you give, not grudgingly, and not out of necessity, but cheerfully and willingly…

2 Corinthians 9:7
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

…to the grace message to build up the mystery of Christ.  But the religious system manipulates people with many verses from scripture that are not rightly divided in order to extort.

1 Corinthians 6:10
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

It is fraud.  It is what Bernie Madoff did, only worse, because they are using God’s word to do it.  They will pay for extorting money.  Grace ministries like Norcal Grace can barely scrape together enough money for a place to meet because most Christians are in denominational systems and they allow men to take of them.

2 Corinthians 11:19-20
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.  For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
This fraud involves both the religious system and the people who claim to be Christians and allow those men to extort from them.

You wrote, “That would be similar to the Word of Faith teachers today who want their gullible followers to send them all the money they can swindle out of them in exchange for their valuable prayers”.  You’re right.  “Squeeze”, “swindle” and “extort” are all good words to describe what they do.  And you’re right that the Word of Faith, Health/Wealth/Prosperity religious shysters and hucksters use this poor widow as an example of giving all.  They are using the word of God deceitfully to extort money from people.

2 Peter 3:16
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

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