Gathered in Love
Centered in Christ
Empowered for Mission
Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
Have you ever wondered….What was the motivation for this poor widow as she gave to the temple that Saturday long ago?
What possessed (motivated) this lady to put God first?
Why did she give at all?
Jesus simply praises the extravagant nature of her giving.
The one who had the least, gave the most.
Actually, we are not specifically told her motivation – why she gave.
We can assume that the Temple was dear to her.
She had probably been giving to the Temple her whole life. She had probably been giving to the Temple her entire life, regardless of her financial situation.
Maybe the Temple was her rock during hard times in life.
Maybe the Temple provided food for her at times.
It was where she came to worship God and learn the scriptures.
It is the place where she, one day, maybe got married.
Perhaps she even buried her husband there.
It was the place where she found community and support in good times and bad.
Maybe what motivated her to give was how God had radically changed her life …..and she knew that maybe this Temple could help change the lives of others.
Perhaps she believed in what the Temple was doing – its ministry.
Probably her motivation is NOT that different than ours, here at Westminster. When it comes to the stewardship of our lives (our motivation for giving of our time/talents/money). I’m sure probably, like the widow, we give because we believe that WPC is a good place to be. We believe in it.
I would think we are motivated to give to Westminster because we are a church Gathered in Love. We gather to worship God – probably the most central ministry of any church. We also gather to love each other and the community. It is an action oriented love (not necessarily a warm a fuzzy kind of love.)
We are also motivated to give to Westminster because we take being Centered in Christ seriously. We want children, youth, and adults to know Jesus and Scripture. So we engage in ministries such as Kids’ Cub, Upward, Summer Camps, Confirmation, Sunday School, a Preschool, Small Groups, PrimeTimers, Bible Studies…..
You know, most of us will never know the full impact our giving has had on others when it comes to this “Centered in Christ”: like the children in Sunday School who learned about Jesus and how one day this might literally save their life. You will never know how a youth (or an adult for that matter) has their life changed for the good because of a Christian relationship that was formed/fostered at meal time on Wednesday evenings or a youth group bonfire or an Upward Sports Camp or on a mission trip. You may never know about the adult who found community and friendship from a Bible Study or a Tres Dias Reunion group here at Westminster. You may never know about the simple act of kindness you shared with someone that helped transform their life.
Think about it….it was the same for the widow. She had no idea the impact she was making when she stood in that line and offered her coins to the Lord. Just like we don’t know the full impact we our making in this world – when we give to the Lord.
You will never know the person who took one step closer to accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because of something you did or gave.
Yes, I think we are motivated to give to Westminster because we are a church Gathered in Love and Centered in Christ.
But we are also motivated because we are a church – Empowered for Mission. Westminster takes mission seriously. You may never know what it meant to the family needing food at the RockRiver food Pantry or the homeowner of a habitat house or the person needing accountability at an Anger Alternatives gathering (that meets in our facility). You probably will never know about the lives changed through this church’s financial support of the local Jail ministries or The Children’s Clothes Closet or Rockford Rescue Mission or Carpenter’s place or Rockhouse Kids.
And what about our primary Mission Outpost – your Stateline Campus? Stateline is where real kingdom growth has great potential.
We are a church that understands that the most effective way to grow the kingdom is through the creation of new worshipping communities!
It is the most effective way to reach more people with the life changing message of the Jesus Christ.
We are motivated to give because of these types of things. And it is not just with our dollars but also with much needed time and labor. If Westminster would all of a sudden withdraw from mission and outreach, there would be a large void in this community.
I don’t know about you, but I am motivated to give to Westminster because we are a church Gathered in Love, Centered in Christ and Empowered for mission – a Church that knows people need Jesus! We know that people’s lives are better: when they know Jesus, when they are involved in a church, when they come to Westminster.
I could end this blog post here.… but I think there is another reason this widow was motivated to give. Yes, she believed in the ministries of the Temple she attended. But there was more – something much more – even more important, something deeper.
I’m sure she knew the Psalms. Psalm 24 may have been a favorite.
You see, Psalm 24 tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.”
Over and over again the Bible tells us that God owns the world because God made it.
It is the economics of God—God owns everything.
God is rich.
God created the universe.
All land belongs to God.
All money belongs to God.
Everything belongs to God.
God has given us full and free use of the world. All God asks is that we use it wisely – to be good stewards/caretakers of creation.
That is foundational to who we are as God’s children.
Now, if we truly believe that— that God owns everything and we are the caretakers – our lives take on a revolutionary new perspective.
As the honored trustees (caretakers) of God’s world, how do we respond to that awesome responsibility?
The widow responded with giving sacrificially. As a caretaker she was motivated to give her all. Think about it – it says she gave two coins, not one. She could have given just one coin, and most of us would have thought that was much (more than enough for this poor widow).
She was motivated by something deeper than just what the Temple was doing for her …. or what she believed she needed to do for the Temple. It was something between her and God, not her and the church. She was motivated out of a spiritual conviction.
Giving, as Jesus taught it, is part of our spiritual relationship with God.
It’s not about the need of an organization to receive:whether the church budget gets balanced is not a matter of ultimate importance.
Acting as caretakers of all of God’s blessings (our time, talents, financial resources) is of ultimate importance!
This coming weekend is World Communion and Stewardship Dedication. Hopefully by now you have received some Commitment Cards in the mail. If not, we will have some available on Sunday. Please bring them to worship on October 3-4. Your estimate of giving card and your time/talent card confirms your desire to be good stewards of God’s creation and by filling out these cards you enable the church to successfully plan ahead for ministries throughout the year so we can be a church: Gathered in Love, Centered in Christ and Empowered for Mission.