Stewarding His Love
Our giving as Christians grows out of the profound awareness that it all belongs to God.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you.
And you and I are studying in the book of Mark, we’re in chapter 12. We’ve come now to Mark 12:41, which is the story of what’s called the Widow’s Mite. Let me read these four verses for us, may I? “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 said unto them, ‘Verily, I say unto you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in out of their abundance, but she of her want, did cast in all that she had, even all her living.'”
Now, my method of looking at the Word of God always has been to ask, “What does it say?” When I was a student just out of high school, I graduated from high school while I was still 15; and was not quite 16, I guess, when I went to Moody. So in those early salad years, I absorbed everything I could of teaching about the Bible, in those years I spent at the Moody Bible Institute. Dr. James M. Gray was president of the Institute and also taught what was known as Bible Synthesis; Synthetic Bible Studies. That is to say, reading the Word of God and seeing how it fits together, putting one passage of scripture together with another because they do fit. You’ll find as you study your Bible, that it is a unity. It’s not an aggregation of things that were written by well-intentioned people across the centuries, but it is a unity of truth. And the Word of God does fit together in its various parts.
Well, anyhow, he taught that class. And I remember Dr. Gray saying so often, “Master what the Bible says. You will have no difficulty with what it means.” Master what the Bible says. You will have no difficulty with what it means. So that’s been my approach through the years. What’s it say? Well, now, if you ask that question of this passage, what does it say? It says, “He sat over against the treasury and beheld how the people cast in money.” God sees what you give. And it says, “He beheld how the people.” God sees why you give. “And many that were rich cast in much.” God sees how much you give. Then the poor widow cast in two mites, and the statement of our Lord Jesus saying… Two mites is less than four cents in our money, much less than four cents. And so the Lord Jesus said, “This woman gave more than all the rest of them put together.” What did He mean?
Well, He said they had a lot left. God sees what you have left after you give. They gave, and they had a lot left out of their abundance; they had a lot left. She gave all she had, even all her living. She had nothing more to spend for bread, or fish, or vegetables, or rent, or clothing, or fuel to keep the place warm if it were a cold night. She gave it all. He said she gave more, even though in monetary valuement it was a very small fraction of what the total monetary amount might have been.
Now, that’s what it says. What do you and I get from it? Do you wanna think about that with me for a moment? A small thought here, this whole matter of giving has come into focus in recent weeks and months because of events that have transpired in the world of television evangelism, particularly. The Philistines have jumped on it gleefully in the press and have made a field day out of a kind of literary voyeurism that looks into all the private lives they can find of all of the Christian leaders, so-called, and trying to drag out to the view of their viewers and their readers all of the juicy details of human fallibility; voyeurism, I call it. But, be that as it may, recent events have brought all of this whole matter of Christian giving into very sharp focus, both in the consideration of unbelieving people, as well as the thoughtful reevaluation, I’m sure, of millions of believers in our country and across the world. Who gives how much? Why do they give? And what of it? Is a question that has been brought up again, and again, and again.
Now, before I go into any discussion of this passage here, let me say that nobody ever gave anything he didn’t want to give. You and I have to realize that. The whole matter of Christian stewardship is based, so far as the believer is concerned, upon our profound conviction, that it all, A-L-L, all belongs to God. “And we give thee but thine own, whatever the gift may be, all that we have is thine alone, a trust, dear Lord, from thee,” said the hymn writer. That’s the beginning concept of Christian stewardship, isn’t it? It all belongs to God.
My good friend, Mel Larson, who was probably one of my dearest friends through the years, now with the Lord a good many years; he was editor of the Youth for Christ magazine for some years and then editor of the Evangelical Beacon for a number of years before his death. Good man. But it was his custom, I am told, to gather his family, his wife, Caroline, and his son, Jim, and his daughter, Suzy, to gather the family around, and on New Year’s Day, they would sit down and say, “Now, how much money will dad be making this year?” They put that down. “How much will mother make doing any typing, and stenography, and any other extra work?” And they put that down. “How much can Jim make doing odd jobs and mowing lawns and so on?” Put that down. “How much can Suzy make doing babysitting and so on?” Put that down.
Over against the total income, they put the total expenses, the mortgage on the house, the payments on the car, clothing, doctors, dentists, tuition, and so on. Included in that listing of disbursements obviously was what they were gonna give for missions, a missionary-minded family, they were. And so they would list all of these things, then they would have prayer together and say, “Now, Lord, how much can we give this year by faith for missions?” And they would put down that amount and then they would set routinely about providing it as the months went by. Through the salary, through the extra work, through the mowing of lawns, through babysitting, through whatever, they were going to fulfill that promise that they made to their Lord on New Year’s Day.
Now that, to me, is an excellent example of Christian stewardship. Wouldn’t you agree? Our giving as Christians grows out of the profound awareness that it all belongs to God, and we are held in trust and we’re responsible. It is required among stewards that a man be found faithful.
Having said that, the psychology of giving to charitable purposes is that no one stands over you and say, “You have to do it.” You do it because you want to. And I think many of these people who are clucking their tongues in mock dismay about the amounts of money that are expended in Christian broadcasting and telecasting have to realize that this amount of giving by God’s people has grown out of a profound conviction that it was worthwhile doing, and that they wanted very much to do it. But people don’t give unless they want to, unless they think it’s worthwhile, unless they think it meets a need. Oh, incidentally… I’m wandering a little here and there, but it’s fun, isn’t it? So come along with me. Incidentally, I have found… I did a little study on this a few years back, I have found that the people who complain the loudest about how much is being given are folk who, in most cases, haven’t given a dime themselves. During the 23 years that I was president of the college, we would get a few letters complaining about things, and sometimes those complaints were directed to matters that had to do with money, either money of income or money of disbursement. And I found the people who complain the loudest are folk who give the least. That’s just a small observation that I’ve made through the years.
In any case, there is nothing sinful about receiving amounts of money for God’s work. Our Lord Jesus was not critical of the process of giving. He sat there and watched people give, and He commended those who gave, but He simply pointed out that there is a divine measurement of the value of your gift, which is based upon the component of sacrifice. Alright? Well, now, let’s look at this. “Jesus sat and beheld how the people cast in money.” He beheld. God sees what I give. God sees what I give. Then it says, “He beheld how.” God sees why I give. And then it says, “Many that were rich cast in much.” God sees how much I give. Does that bother you? Well, maybe sometimes it ought to.
I remember Solomon’s statement, “Say not unto thy neighbor, ‘Go, and come another day,’ when you already have the supply of that need right at hand.” Do you remember that passage? “Say not thou go and come again when thou hast it by thee,” I think, is the exact wording of the text. I’m turning the pages of my big Bible here now to get at it so that I can be exactly accurate. “Say not unto thy neighbor… ” I got the neighbor in there. “Say not unto thy neighbor, ‘Go and come again, and tomorrow I will give when thou hast it by thee.'” You got it right now, why don’t you give it now? That’s what the Bible says. [chuckle] Practical book, isn’t it? Well, we’ve just begun to look into this whole passage and time has gone for today, but I’ll come back again with your permission and God’s, and we’ll talk about it some more.
Dear Father today, may our giving and our living please Thee. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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