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Open Hearts: When he gives everything, then we can give something.

Open Hearts: When he gives everything, then we can give something.

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?  

Open Hearts: We become trustworthy with resources when we see he trusts us.

Open Hearts: We become trustworthy with resources when we see he trusts us.

Matthew 25:14-30

Listening guide

Which piece of advice are you most likely to follow?

  1. Think happy

  2. If you want to offer people something truly extraordinary, don’t ask your current customers.

  3. Money is the answer for everything.

We tend to think: The more we have, the more trustworthy we become.

“5 bags of gold” not talents

Matthew 6: 22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, you whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy your whole body will be full of darkness.”

Money makes you blind.

The more he had the less trustworthy he became.

Everyone still needs to trust something.

We become trustworthy when we see God’s trust in us.

Discussion questions

1.     Matthew 25:14 says the master gave the servants or slaves his possessions. What are you trying to do with the possessions you have now and what would you do if you had more?


2.     Do you know your net worth? Did you know your net worth 10 or 20 or 30 years ago? Are you living in such a way that even if you don’t increase your net worth, you can say you have increased your net kingdom worth?


3.     In Matthew 25:24-25, what mistakes and failures does the third man commit? (Hint: there are a few)


4.     According to Matthew 25:21, how does Jesus praise the servants? I’m confused. What does Jesus praise them for? What exactly is the standard for winning?


5.     Remember that parables about God’s kingdom always use things we know (bags of gold, making money) to tell us about God’s kingdom and his ways (which we don’t know). What is something surprising we learn in this parable about God’s kingdom?


6.     Capitalism says that we should increase our own assets and resources. Socialism says we should share our resources with others so that everyone has an equal amount, particularly by letting the government redistribute that wealth. How does this teaching from Jesus challenge both?


7.     In Matthew 25:29 Jesus teaches us that “whoever has will be given more”. He doesn’t say that whoever accomplishes a lot or whoever achieves a lot will be given more, but simply that whoever has will be given more. What do you have? How much more do you imagine God gives?


“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

Open Hearts: Generous living begins with God first giving

Open Hearts: Generous living begins with God first giving

Haggai 1:1-15

Haggai 1:1–15 (NIV)

A Call to Build the House of the Lord

1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua  son of Jozadak,  the high priest:

2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”

3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.

13 Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: “I am with you,” declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.

Listening guide

Listening guide

Giving: the gardener and the nobleman

Which of these challenges to giving do you most often face?

  • I give unwillingly or even begrudgingly.

  • I give selfishly, almost manipulating. I give in order to get.

  • I gave scarcely, focusing on my lack of resources instead of how much I have.

  • Others?

The Bible describes the generous giver

  • cheerful 2 Corinthians 9:7

  • Honest, unmanipulative Matthew 6:3 “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

  • Generous 1 Timothy 6:18 “Command … to be generous”

Scarcity often comes from the wrong priority.   

The challenge of giving: rocks in the container  

Verse 13 “I am with you.” 

Generous living begins with God first giving. 

Can you give to God first?  

Generous living begins with God first giving. 

Discussion questions

  1. Introduction: What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles that hinder or prevent people from using their resources well? Both internal and external forces should be considered.  

  2. Read Haggai 1:1-11. What is the situation the Israelites are going through?  

  3. In Haggai 1:2, we hear that the people decided not to build the Lord’s house. What reasons do you think might have led the people to not build the Lord’s house?  

  4. Around the world, thousands of Christians gather without a church building. Is this passage suggesting that it is wrong if we decide not to build or have a church building?  

  5. According to Haggai 1:5-6 what should have alerted the Israelites to the fact that they had a problem? 

  6. Are you seeing signs that we have a stewardship problem? What signs are you seeing?  

  7. In Haggai 2:1-9, what does God promise the Israelites to spur them on in stewardship?  

  8. It is easy to think of “stewardship” as being a discussion about money. Consider the following quote: “Stewardship isn't a subcategory of the Christian life. Stewardship is the Christian life. After all, what is stewardship except that God has entrusted to us life, time, talents, money, possessions, family, and his grace? In each case, he evaluates how we regard what he has entrusted to us—and what we do with it.” (Randy Alcon in Money, Possessions, and Eternity, p. 140)