Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

41 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. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Listening guide

“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45)  

“I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week.” J.D. Rockefeller  

Andrew McNair, “One of the mysteries in my wealth management practice is the glaring coincidence that a large majority of my wealthiest clients are some of the largest givers and tithers I have ever met.” 

Let’s get to giving:  

  • What real giving is  

  • what giving does  

  • What real giving makes 

“41 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. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.” 

Verse 43 “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” 

2 couples  

Point: Some giving is actually _____________. 

Is money more to you than it should be?  

  • Can you give large amounts of money away (whatever large might be for you)?   

  • Are you scared that you might have less than you are accustomed to having?   

  • If you see a person who is doing better than you, even though you might be a harder worker or a better person, does it get under your skin?   

Giving is giving away the __________ to control your own _________ 

Verse 44 ““she out of her poverty put in everything – her whole life.” 

Real giving is to go so far as to give away our _________ so others may __________.  

Charles Blondin 

If he gives away everything, then we will be able to give away something. 

Discussion questions

  1. Roughly calculate the following amounts in your life right now. We won’t share these numbers with others. How do you feel about these choices?  

    1. income for the year 

    2. amount given away and where it was given 

    3. amount spent on possessions 

  2. In Mark 12:41, contributions are placed into the temple treasury. The treasury would have been a locked room, like a vault. Most likely the offerings were placed into one of 13 chests around the temple. Each was shaped something like a trumpet. Some churches have the habit of passing the plate, others place offerings in a box around the sanctuary (like the temple). First, what do we learn from this about appropriate cultural adoption? Second, do you think it would be better to use boxes?  

  3. The poor widow gave a quadrans, which was a Roman money denomination. The contrast between this event and the last (the master and his stewards) is incredible. This woman’s offering wasn’t worth 10 minutes of work (it would be like someone making minimum wage and throwing a buck in). In the other story, one slave gave 40 plus years of money to his master.  

    The research on Americans and generosity is mixed, but it seems like generally speaking, the wealthier a person is, the less they give. 

    1. In 2011, the top 20% income achievers gave about 1.3% of their income. The bottom 20% income achievers gave 3.2% of their income.  

    2. "The research is also mixed on whether people with more money are more likely to give it away. While some studies suggest that wealthier people are more likely to donate money, other studies do not." 

    3. "Those who earned less in salary actually gave more to the poor. In fact, according to a recent study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, based on IRS data, those earning $25,000 or less donated an average of 16.6% of their adjusted gross income. By comparison, high-earning citizens gave only 4.6% of their incomes. The higher you go in income, the lower the percentage of your salary that you gave to charity. So if someone earned between $50,000 to $75,000, their giving only rose to a trickle of 5.7%." 

    What are some reasons behind this? Is this good, bad, or irrelevant?  

  4. Mark 12: 43 Jesus says the woman put more into the treasury than all the others. Explain what he is saying.  

  5. Do you see the woman’s gift as an act of love, of generosity, of worship, or of foolishness?  

  6. What do you learn about true generosity from this passage? 

  7. There is somewhat famous example from Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China.  

Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, was called to a home to pray for a sick woman. He was chosen because, unlike other religious leaders of the day, he did not charge the family to pray for her.  

The woman was very poor. When Taylor saw her poverty, he clutched the coin in his pocket. It was the only money he had. He wished that there were two so he could give one to her. After all, he had only two meals left at home for himself.  

He knelt to pray for the woman, but found that he could not pray. God was asking him to give up his precious coin. He tried again to pray. How could he walk away with nothing to live on? Again he could not pray. Finally he gave her the coin, was released by God and felt great freedom and blessing as he prayed. 

Is your heart as moved as Taylor’s was?