Have you heard the old joke about the burglar and Jesus? A guy breaks into a home when the owners are out for the evening. The house has all its lights out, and he’s searching it via flashlight. Suddenly he hears out of the darkness “I see you, and Jesus is watching you too.” He immediately panics and flashes his light all around the room to see who’s with him. He doesn’t see anything, so he figures he was just imagining it. He goes a little bit further and hears again “I see you, and Jesus is watching you too.” Again he searches the room for the source of the voice, and finds nothing. He hears it one more time “I see you, and Jesus is watching you too.” He swings his light behind him and finds. . .a parrot in a cage. The burglar laughs and says “What kind of idiots would have a parrot who says that?” The parrot replies “The same kind of idiots who would name their Rottweiler Jesus. Sic ‘em!!!”
No, I’m not going to give out my home address so you can hunt me down after that lame joke. I just couldn’t find any better segue than that for today’s story. Jesus was watching the people as they were giving into the coffers for the completion and upkeep for the temple. Sorry, just one more story that illustrates how important that statement is. In a small church, the pastor did something unusual as they passed the “plate” around for the offering. As the plate made its way down the pews, he stood behind it the entire time and intently watched as each person took the plate and passed it on, either contributing to it or not. Obviously this made a lot of people nervous as they noticed him standing over their shoulder to observe if they gave and how much. After the plate finished its rounds, the pastor returned to the lectern and preached on today’s text. He told the congregation “A lot of you were pretty nervous as you noticed me watching what you did with the plate. Why are you so bothered by it? Each Sunday your Lord is doing exactly the same thing.”
It seems to me that today’s story has both a comforting and distressing aspect, depending on what type of giver you are. Let’s take the second type first. If you’re giving “out of your wealth,” then apparently that doesn’t impress Christ.
Can I be perfectly frank here? The 10% rule was under the Old Covenant. I realize that there are people out there who say that we aren’t under the Old System anymore, so that rule no longer applies. OK, let’s grant that point just for the sake of argument. Are you telling me that you owe God less than a believer under the Old Covenant?! If you know anything about your Bible at all, you’ve got to know that you have so many more privileges under the New Covenant—which is signed in Jesus’ blood. C. S. Lewis had a good standard, besides the standard “10%” rule. If your budget is not getting “pinched” by your giving, that’s a bad sign. If there aren’t some things that you’d like to do or buy and can’t afford because of your giving, then he'd say that your attitude needs to be reexamined.
The bad news is that Jesus is always watching. But there’s potentially good news as well: Jesus is watching. If you’ve made real sacrifices and think that your giving hasn’t been noticed, let the widow encourage you. He knows. Maybe no one else has given you the applause for the sacrifices you’ve made, but he will. He who noticed the “widow’s coins” is standing over your shoulder as well.
Now’s a good time for some honesty. Have I always been as generous as I should? Have I always even kept to the miserly “10%” rule? I wish I could claim that. But I'm trying, and I’m cooperating with the Spirit to make the proper course corrections. Hopefully you are too.
Lord Jesus, my attitude towards giving stinks sometimes, doesn’t it? In fact, I shouldn’t call it “giving,” as if I’m not just returning something that belongs to you already. Everything I have and everything I am belongs to you. I’m not my own, I’ve been bought with a price. Please help me to demonstrate that.