Perspective is everything.
As I studied today for an easy lesson on giving, I ran into an area that really challenged me. After going through this study, it completely wrecked my plans for an easy lesson on giving. I started thinking; while God showed me something profound in the scripture today, I needed something easy to digest for the online youth lesson. Then I thought, no. Not every lesson in God's Word is fluffy and easy to digest. Sometimes, you just have to chew on it a little longer. So here it is...
I was reading a devotional on Luke 21: 1-4 titled 'The Widow's Mite', or 'The Widow's Offering'. It's a Level one story most of us know by heart.
The Widow's Offering
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 "Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
I then looked at some commentary and realized I have been looking at that verse all wrong. I didn't want to believe the commentary that this verse isn't about giving at all, so I started reading before and after.
One thing to keep in mind is that our modern day Bibles have assigned verses and even nifty titles to help us understand blocks of scripture, but they weren't written with them. I have found that understanding what was written before and after an area you are studying will help provide better context to what you are reading. Understanding the context of the scripture is very important. You will find that, often times, a block of scripture has a very different meaning without it's context.
So...I then read Luke 20:45 thru Luke 21:6 and I couldn't believe that I had missed the point every time I've read it.
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely." 21:1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 "Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." 5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
It's talking about how we as as the body of Christ should not be so consumed by running the church as a business that we rob and overlook the poor. Jesus is saying that God didn't ask the widow to give all that she had to live on, but the church made her feel like she needed to. It's about church corruption. It's saying that we as Christians should realize that the ministry we do is more important than the building we do it in.
It's been a challenge doing ministry out of our church building that we all love, but this may very well be a message from God to remember that the church is not the buildings but the body of Christ.
If all we ever do in our faith is play church in a church, then we aren't the church at all.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
I challenge you this week to rethink church. Rethink your place in the Body of Christ. While tithing and worshiping with a body of like minded believers is important and scriptural, taking care of God's people is much more important than a building. This week show someone thru your actions what the church really is.
Minister of Youth
Pine Forest Baptist Church