11/9/97, P24B

She Gave All She Had”
Mark 12: 41-44

idows held a special place in Jesus’ heart--- their plight was especially hard in that age when women were impeded from realizing their complete potential. A woman left without her husband could not inherit her own property and was at the mercy of her sons. If she had no sons her husband’s brother was next in line to care for her. You can easily see why so many widows were in dire straits. Jesus raised the widow to a higher level of respect and focused society’s concern on the "widows and orphans."

Another reason that Jesus cared so for widows was because his mother was a widow. He knew first hand how vulnerable their situation was. Yet, he also realized how much these women of great wisdom and grace had to give.

How much can one poor woman give?

My mother too is a widow. Since my dear dad died nine years ago hers has been a season of adjustment. She is 89 now and lives alone, with her cat. She drives her Buick almost every day, and nothing had better get in the way of her "hair appointment:" I’d like to see it some week if she missed;-) Then there’s the bank, and the grocery, and the mall, and everywhere else she goes. She is not poor: Her school teacher’s pension and social security enables her to feel "well off." She has good health and that has allowed her to continue to live independently and make her own decisions. I like to remind her that she is still a free moral agent and has the right to decide her own destiny. Whatever she decides to do about going into a group home, or trading for a new Buick, is all right with me. She has made better decisions that I have, thus far. And after all, she is a school teacher--- first grade, no less!

How much does one woman have to give?

It seems like for every widower that I have led away from the open grave, there have been a hundred widows. Women must be stronger, they sure live longer. Widowers have a harder time alone. They have been men and "the head of the house"--- but take away the neck that has faithfully turned the head and the head doesn't even know how to turn. If they have any money they will get trapped by some young thing. One young man said upon returning from Las Vegas that it is a family oriented place, "You see so many old ‘geezers’ with their daughters."

Widows are more resilient. I recall how a rich man in my daddy’s church was dying and called his wife in to talk. "Honey you are a pretty woman and you are bound to remarry--- and I know your new husband will live in my mansion, and probably drive my fine car, and maybe even wear my Italian shoes, but just one special thing--- would you please not let him ever touch my new hand made golf clubs. O, don’t worry, she replied--- He’s left handed!" Funny, but it might just capture the resilience of--- the "stronger" sex!

How much can one woman give?

Let’s look again at this timeless story of Jesus and the Widow’s mites. Actually, I have a couple mites. The smallest of coins, worth about a half penny each--- smaller than the smallest piece of currency. Can you see them--- smaller than a shirt button? But that’s all she had to live on. How could it be true; but it must be true for Jesus said it, she "... put more into the treasury than all the others." (v. 43,NIV).

Note that Jesus had been "watching the crowd putting money into the temple treasury." Remember, this was the Jesus that had a few days earlier turned over the tables of the money changers in that same temple. He was here studying how this forerunner of today’s church would receive donations. And here he lifts up this poor widow as an example of true Christian stewardship. Sure the rich folk gave larger amounts, but she gave all she had!

Translated into our age, he is saying that true discipleship, full surrender to his will, requires that we all give our all! At the conclusion of this service we will sing my favorite invitational hymn; "I Surrender All", "All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live." And that’s just verse one! But, it’s the challenge to every one who would respond to Jesus’ call. There is no cheap grace. There is no budget plan. There is no other way, than all the way.

Although their reward is not any greater than the poor person who gives their all, what would happen if the rich would also surrender their all to him? Well, I think they have. I know that most of you have. This is how we have built and maintain this massive ministry at 360 Peachtree Street.

We have given our hopes and dreams and careers and plans to him--- and he has blessed it and given it back to us to become Christian Stewards of it. He has led us into new directions because of our willingness to be led. He has blessed us beyond measure because of our faithfulness to the covenant. All that we have is from him and is still his, but it has been a great joy to follow him along the way. Is it any wonder that this annual time of pledging our renewed financial loyalty to this his church is such a high experience in our year? What a joy it is to return a portion of the blessing to him. To put out treasure in the church treasury as the hero widow in Jesus’ story did in the long ago.

But remember, our actual amount give is just a token, whether it be 5% or 20%, it in its intent represents our 100% laid on the Altar of God.

"Together We Can" meet our financial needs as we each surrender our all to Jesus!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

11/9/97, P24B