I wrote about ‘giving up all’, but only mentioned examples in Acts and the epistles. There is another account – in the Gospels – The Widow’s Mite.
The Widow’s Mite
As I said, one way to understand difficult passages or practices in the OT would be to see how Jesus or the early church referenced and flesh it out. And when it comes to the topic of giving (tithing), Jesus actually did not say much; but He mentioned much about the hazardous preoccupation with wealth, and about the poor.
In the account of “The Widow’s Mite”, many use the account from Luke, where the warning against the scribes and the sacrificial giving of the poor widow was separated by the artificial chapter division. There is another account in Mark, which brings out the context more.
Mark 12 38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
James Matheny wrote about this. It makes more sense when I read the text in context.
Was the account about sacrificial giving or was Jesus illustrating on his warning about religious folks asking people to give, and give? = by pointing out a widow who in obedience about temple ‘tithes’ probably had sold what she had, and then gave everything she had.
One of my favorite films is “The Book of Eli”. I first watched it aboard a plane, and had to get the DVD. That was the impact of the movie on me. It’s about how the scriptures can be abused to control others Here’s the review from Christianity Today –
Denzel Washington stars as Eli, a lone traveler wandering America’s wastelands presumably devastated by nuclear war 30 years prior.
Carnegie a crime boss is looking to expand his territory and knows that knowledge is power in a world where most people don’t know how to read. His gang searches the area (and hapless travelers) for books to help him gain control. There’s one in particular he’s desperate to find, a book with the power to rally people under his leadership—and Eli just happens to have the world’s last remaining copy of The Bible.
Eli and Carnegie want the Scriptures for very different reasons. Carnegie recognizes that the Bible can influence people’s hearts and minds—a “weapon” to bend people’s wills to his own. But Eli believes he is on a mission from God, following the instructions of the “still small voice” within to protect the holy book at all costs and save his devastated world with the divine wisdom it contains.
Using, or abusing Scriptures?
I remember how my previous church spent months in each year raising money for her worthy projects – yes, they were all worthy projects, missions, church planting, sending out workers. One Sunday, the appeal to give was transmitted from one of our satellite venues, and we watched the sermon on the screen. Then I prayed, ‘Lord, close our ears, our eyes to what the speaker is saying, as the scriptures are being quoted out of context’. (I had been reading up on ‘twisting the scriptures’). Then the sound system became muffled, and the projection screen began to sway. Not too sure whether it was an answer to prayer, but anyway, I thought so.
So, have I been exposed to much incomplete and distorted interpretations of the scriptures? How did term “Great Commission” came about? Or the “Great Commandment”. What about the “Great Compassion” (John 3:16). I realized now that these two ‘greats’ draw attention to what we must do, and not what Jesus has done. Has the church been subjected to a narrow definition of the word ‘disciple’ and various groups of people, in faithfulness, sincerity and personal obedience went forth to make disciples – in their own image! To ‘hothouse’ converts for the task of world evangelism, a type of special forces, marine corps, rather than just a mere soldier, a son, a sower, a steward, a student, a sprinter, a sibling (to the community) [from the letters to Timothy]?
Or have we been subjected to a rigid nuance of the term ‘discipleship’ and disciple – see https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B130207/what-does-it-mean-to-make-disciples
The text for the Great Commission is taken from Matthew. Mark stated that it was to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”. I suppose Luke’s account of this commission would be in Acts 1:8 – to witness to Him. John corroborated the command in Acts 1:8 when he wrote John 20: “ 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.”
I have perused the multiplication charts of the disciple-making movements. But I wonder why the fastest growing churches in the world are the Pentecostals and the Charismatics. Maybe there is something I have missed – The Great Commitment of Jesus. Its not about my discipleship. Its about God’s purpose in Jesus, God’s plan in Jesus, God’s program in Jesus. And when someone told me how they fasted, how they prayed – I chipped in – yes, wow, but it is going to be a OMO – One Man Operation, and it is finished. We just follow along, and learn how He did it, how He is doing it – to be a learner follower as John MacArthur explained.
THE GREAT COMMITMENT
Yes, I repeat for emphasis THE GREAT COMMITMENT
Acts 1: … 5you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses …”
Matthew 28 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore …… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
May the Companion (paraclete) Whom the Lord Jesus sent, our Comforter, our Captain, our Covering also be our Counsellor, so that we can know Jesus