Luke 21:1-4

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

March 27, 2002


Jesus is in the last week of His life.  He has made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The people were calling Him a king as they shouted “Hosanna”, or, “Save us now”.  When He entered town, the first thing He did was to clear out the moneychangers from the temple.  He said that God’s House was to be a House of Prayer, but they had made it a “den of thieves”.

Then Jesus began to teach the people every day in the temple.  The crowds were gathering to hear this preacher from Galilee.  It’s some time between Palm Sunday and Thursday night, when Jesus would hold the “Last Supper” and celebrate Passover.  Kind of like tonight …

(Luke 21:1-4 KJV)  And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. {2} And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. {3} And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: {4} For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.


All about giving.

I know this is always a touchy subject with some people.  Let me say up front that I don’t enjoy teaching on this subject.  But I have also learned over the years that the subject of giving is a very important part of growing up as a Christian.
When people say, “Churches are only out for your money”, I think there are two things to remember. 
First, there are some churches that are exactly that.  There are abuses in the church. 

Our financial policies – I don’t know who gives what in our church.  That’s something the treasurer knows, not me.  I have a limit on what I can spend without approval of the elders.  We count the money with two people, it takes two people to open the Agape box, and a check over $200 needs two signatures.  No single person is going to have the temptation to steal the church blind, at least not very easily.

Secondly, some people say that because frankly they don’t want anyone touching them where they’re sensitive.  They love their money and they don’t want anyone telling them how to spend it.

(Gen 14:18-20 KJV)  And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. {19} And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: {20} And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Moses didn't actually start tithing, it happened as far back as Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek after having rescued his nephew Lot safely from his enemies.


Consider tithing

When people tell you that we shouldn’t tithe because we’re not “under the law”, that’s not technically correct.  Tithing predates the law.
I think when you begin to consider the question, “How much should I give?” we ought to think about the tithe.

(Lev 27:30-31 KJV)  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD. {31} And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.


A tithe comes from the top

It was always done right from the top.  Right from the top of your paycheck.
What you do first with your money shows your priorities in life.
I’m not proposing that you give to the church instead of feeding your family...we are supposed to give as God has prospered us.
But there are plenty of times that if we don’t give from the top, we’ll spend it somewhere else, leaving nothing.


God considered the tithe to be His

If you decided that you didn’t want to give God His tithe, you could buy it back, at 20% interest!

(Mal 3:8-12 KJV)  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. {9} Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. {10} Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. {11} And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. {12} And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

God said to Israel that when they didn’t tithe, they were robbing God.

We want to be careful about getting legalistic about tithes because God desires that we learn to give as He leads.  He doesn't own just a tenth of our possessions, He owns all of it.  It all belongs to Him.

But there are some principles about giving that we can learn from tithing.


Giving is a test of faith

It’s a test to see if you are going to trust God with less.
It’s a test to see if you reap what you sow.

(Hag 1:2-11 NLT)  "This is what the LORD Almighty says: The people are saying, 'The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord's house--the Temple.'" {3} So the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: {4} "Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? {5} This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! {6} You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! {7} "This is what the LORD Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! {8} Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. {9} You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses. {10} That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. {11} I have called for a drought on your fields and hills--a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olives and all your other crops, a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get."


Sometimes financial difficulties come from putting God last

When the nation of Israel had returned from being captive in Babylon, the began the work of rebuilding the temple.  But after a few months, the people became sidetracked with building their own homes.  Understandable.
But as they began to neglect the Temple, their own financial stability began to be shaken a bit.  God was trying to get their attention.
Put God first.  Give out of the first fruits, not the leftovers.

Let’s look at our section for tonight – Luke 21:1-4

:1  And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.

he looked upanablepo – to look up

castingballo – to throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls; to scatter, to throw, cast into; to pour out; to put into, insert

giftsdoron – a gift, present; of sacrifices and other gifts offered to God; of money cast into the treasury for the purposes of the temple and for the support of the poor

the treasurygazophulakion (“treasure” + “guard”) – a repository of treasure, especially of public treasure, a treasury

It is used to describe the apartments constructed in the courts of the temple, in which the not only the sacred offerings and things needful for the service were kept, but in which the priests, etc, dwelt: #Ne 13:7; of the sacred treasury in which not only treasure but also public records were stored, and the property of widows and orphans was deposited. Josephus speaks of treasuries in the women’s court of Herod’s temple. In the N.T. near the treasury seems to used of that receptacle mentioned by the rabbis to which were fitted thirteen chests or boxes, i.e. trumpets, so called from their shape, and into which were put the contributions made voluntarily or paid yearly by the Jews for the service of the temple and the support of the poor.

the rich menplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources

:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

widowchera – a widow

poorpenichros – needy, poor; from penes, one who is so poor he earns his bread by daily labour

miteslepton – thin, small; a small brass coin, equivalent to the eighth part of an “as”, worth about a 1/5 of a cent

:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:

of a truthalethos – truly, of a truth, in reality, most certainly

poorptochos – reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms; destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour; one who only obtains his living by begging; lacking in anything

more pleion – greater in quantity; the more part, very many; greater in quality, superior, more excellent

:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

abundance perisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to be over, to remain; to exist or be at hand in abundance

offeringsdoron – a gift, present; of sacrifices and other gifts offered to God; of money cast into the treasury for the purposes of the temple and for the support of the poor

penury husterema – deficiency, that which is lacking; in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution

Jesus certainly isn’t saying that this woman’s problems was because of her lack of tithing.

But her poverty didn’t keep her from giving either.

the livingbios – life; that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth, goods


Jesus’ standard of giving is to give everything.

We often think of how much we can spare to give to God.  But we ought to be thinking, “How much do I dare to keep for myself”.
God has given you everything you have.  The question is, does He have access to it?
Jesus set the example of giving everything for us.
(2 Cor 8:9 KJV)  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Jesus praised this woman’s gift not because of its amount but because it was everything she had.
Actual dollar amounts aren’t important to the Lord.

His desire is that we learn to give sacrificially.

(2 Cor 8:5 KJV)  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.


Let God teach you how much.

It starts with giving yourself to the Lord.
God wants to let you know how much to give.
God may tell us how much to give, and we just respond with, “Huh?  What did You say?  I couldn’t hear you!”
Don’t come to me after the service and ask, “How much should I be giving?”  That’s something you need to be asking God, not me.

(2 Cor 9:6-8 KJV)  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. {7} Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. {8} And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:


New Testament Giving

Four words to circle here in verse 7.  This verse is the New Testament guide to giving.

1.  purposethproeretai - to take by choice, to choose beforehand.  Only here.  Lit.  Let each one do just as he has chosen before and still desires to do...”
The New Testament standard of giving is that of giving from your own free will.
God desires us to give from the heart, not necessarily the mind.
2.  not grudgingly - lupes; pain of body or mind, grief, sorrow; the opposite of joy.  We might call it a “pain in the pocketbook”.  There is also an implied command here, “Do not give grudgingly”. 
It’s not the actual amount that causes some people pain, it’s the fact that they have to give up something of their own.
Have you ever had a person give you a gift, then complain how much it hurts them to give it up?  Just keep it!
Giving grudgingly comes from pride and selfishness.  When we think we have a right to keep all that God has given us for our own use, then we’re headed for “grudgingly”.
3.  not of necessity - anagkes; Necessity, to be compelled, of necessity; force, violence.  As if it were like pulling eye-teeth.  When the preacher says, “You must give or God’s work will stop”, then don’t!  The idea of not giving under compulsion is to give spontaneously, without having to be told.
Does this mean that anyone in ministry who asks for or even mentions money is a “false teacher”?

No.  The whole passage we’re dealing with is Paul asking the Corinthians to give.   There is nothing wrong in asking people to give or in letting people know of needs.  The problem is in the pressure tactics.

4.  a cheerful giver - hilaron; cheerful, joyful (hilarious). Found only here in N.T.  It can also be translated “glad”.  LXX uses it for “cheerful countenance” or the “favor” of a ruler.  It is the opposite of grumbling.
Isn’t it sad that in some churches the most somber point of the worship service is when the plate is passed during the offering.
I think that we could change the name of the Agape Box in the back of the auditorium to the Hilarious Box.

(Phil 4:10-13 KJV)  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. {11} Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. {12} I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. {13} I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.


Learn to live within your means

We too often get into financial trouble because we want more than we can afford.  We need to learn to be content “in whatsoever state I am”.  We can’t do this on our own.  We can only do it through Jesus as He strengthens us.

(Mat 23:23-28 KJV) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Tithing your herbs is an outward thing. Having judgment, mercy, and faith are inner qualities.

{24} Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. {25} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. {26} Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. {27} Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. {28} Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

The Pharisees took tithing very seriously.  They would even go through their spice garden and pick out every tenth seed to give to God.  They thought this made them cool before God.


Don’t think you’ve arrived when you’ve tithed.

It’s not impossible for a person to appear to be the greatest human that ever lived, yet inside they are the farthest thing from it.
We need to be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that once we have begun to tithe that we’re the best thing since sliced bread.
God is VERY concerned about our heart.
God is more concerned that you learn justice, mercy, and faith.  But notice that Jesus doesn’t say that they should stop tithing, He says,
(Mat 23:23 NLT)  You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.