For they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. ~ Mark 12:44
“Americans are so gullible,” a rescue mission supervisor told me. “Did you hear about the man who went out and raised two hundred dollars in half an hour from people on the street by telling them he was collecting for ‘The Unknown Soldier’s Widow’?” I confessed I hadn’t heard about it, but I wondered if it were true.
I thought about the money that I gave away to charity. Gullible giving is not God’s way. Guidelines have been given to us. Tithes first – 10 percent of all our income. This is His. We touch it not, lest we be guilty of thievery – robbing divinity is a heinous crime! Offerings next. “Nor will I not offer… to the Lord My God with that which costs me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24), said David. What say you? Think of the widow. She only had two mites. She could have thought that two mites were too little to give. But Jesus didn’t think so. He knew that casting in all your livelihood makes you rich with much more valuable coinage than can come from any earthly mint.
Spastic generosity, triggered by nerves, touched off by impassioned please of poverty, or doled out to starving unfortunates pictured in scraggy photographs, is not the best help we can give. Careful accounting of our budget – as if we were handling someone else’s funds – is the way to go. After all, we are merely stewards, and as the Good Book reminds us, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).
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