By paperthinhymn

Note: The following article is not authored by TruthForFree.com. Source credit for the article can be found at the link above and below the article.

PART 1:

I’ve read endless commentaries on this story and have heard many pastors preach on it. Usually it has to do with some form of the merits of sacrificial giving, and I can’t get behind that at all. That understanding doesn’t make sense to me, even though that seems to be the universal application for this text. This story is seemingly always used to tell us that we ought to give the way this widow gave, or some variation thereof, and I cannot see any basis in the text for reaching that conclusion. All these pastors are wrong. All the commentaries are wrong. And I’ll show you why.


“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, for they all out of their surplus put into the offering, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.’” Luke 21:1-4.

To set the stage, this is all going down on Wednesday of Passion Week, which is the final week of Jesus’ life. On Monday He entered the city, on Tuesday He cleansed the temple, and all day Wednesday He has been teaching the multitudes in the temple area and has been confronted by the false religious leaders of Judaism. By this point his ministry had winded down and was effectively over. There are no more gospel invitations or any more clarifications to the crowds and to the leaders. They’ve all rejected him, and there’s a finality to it, and all that’s left is Jesus preaching an extended message of destruction and judgment upon them, which will come to pass 40 years hence.

In fact, the last words of chapter 20 are clearly words of judgment, “And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47. Luke is pretty gracious though, because Mark gives us the fuller account of the dangers of these false religious leaders, some 39 verses after this went down. He pronounced judgment on the leaders and therefore judgment on the nation for following those leaders and rejecting Him. And so what we see is that sandwiched between the condemnation of the false leaders and the pronunciation of judgment is a little story of a widow dropping two copper pennies into an offering receptacle in the temple. It is somewhat of an odd place to find such a story, and so we need to ask why it’s there and what it has do do with anything. How does something like this fit? Why does Jesus inject this moment of reflection on a widow giving an offering in the temple into this section between a diatribe against false leaders and all the people that follow them, and a pronunciation of judgment on the temple, on the city and on the nation?

Universally commentators will tell us that Jesus is giving us a little glimpse of true worship in the middle of the false worship that dominates the temple. They tell us that it’s a beautiful little story in the midst of ugliness. A little light in the midst of darkness, an illustration of giving till it hurts, contrasted with the selfishness of the spiritual leaders. This is the traditional, universal explanation of this passage with some variation. And you can’t really escape this. Some say that Jesus is teaching that the measure of a gift is not how much you give but how much you have after you give. Others say that the true measure is the self-denial involved; the cost to the individual which is a just another way to say the first one. They say the percentage given is really what the issue is relative to one’s expression of self-denial in that percentage. Obviously, the woman gave the highest percentage [everything] and so they make it about that. Another possibility related to the other two, is that the true measure of any gift is the attitude with which you give it. Is it selfless? Humble? Surrender? Expressing love for God, devotion to God and trust in God? The widow, we are told, had the least left behind, gave the highest percentage and must have had the best attitude. It’s always about this. Whenever someone preaches the story on the widows mite, it will always be one of these things. You know that’s true; pick your poison- you’re going to get a sermon on the importance of giving and giving extravagantly. There’s only one problem.

It’s wrong. That’s not what’s happening here. Look- in spite of the popularity of these views, none of these explanations makes any sense. They just don’t. I don’t get it at all and I can’t help but feel that everything that’s said about this is being imposed on the text and is absolutely ridiculous. And here’s why; Jesus never made any of those points. Jesus never said anything about what’s left behind, what percentage, what attitude, or that we should do likewise and give everything. He didn’t. Jesus never makes any of those points. He does not say the rich gave relatively too little and that they had too much left over. He doesn’t say the rich gave too low a percent. He doesn’t say the widow gave the right amount. He doesn’t say the rich had a bad attitude and the widow had a good attitude, or good spirit. He doesn’t say that.

In fact, He doesn’t say anything about their giving except that she gave more than everybody. He doesn’t say why or with what attitude, or whether she should have, or shouldn’t have, or they should have, or shouldn’t have. Her outward action is all that you see. It is no more or less good, bad, indifferent, humble, proud, selfish, unselfish than anybody else’s act. There is no judgment made on her act as to its true character. There is nothing said about her attitude or her spirit. She could be acting out of devotion. She could be acting out of love. She could be acting out of guilt. She could be acting out of fear. She could be acting out of pride. We don’t know because Jesus doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t say anything about the rich, doesn’t say anything about the widow, doesn’t draw any conclusions, doesn’t develop any principles, doesn’t command anything, doesn’t define anything. Why? Because none of that matters.

The only thing I can conclude is if Jesus wanted to say any of that here, He could have said it. If He wanted to say “Now you need to give like the widow, she had a good attitude and she gave a maximum percentage and what she had left behind was little. This is the kind of sacrificial giving that we’re after.” He doesn’t say that. The story then is not designed to teach any of those things. It’s not designed to teach us about percentages, about how much you have left over, about attitudes. It’s not designed to teach anything about giving or about tithing or giving of ourselves. If there is one thing apparent here it is that she gave everything. So if there’s one lesson that would be obvious and wouldn’t need to be stated, it is that God expects you to give 100 percent of everything that you have and posses.

That’s ridiculous. That’s irresponsible. That’s foolish. It’s not designed to talk about the principles of giving. There’s only one comment that Jesus makes, she gave with her two copper coins relatively a great deal more than all the others because all the others gave out of their surplus, which means they had some left. She gave out of her poverty all she had to live on. That’s all there is. No comment that the Lord appreciated her. No comment that the Lord loved her, commended her. No comment that she was now in the Kingdom of God. No invitation to the disciples to reach in to their little money bags and go up there and throw in everything they had because it was good enough for the widow, it should be good enough for the disciples of Jesus. And if she was truly spiritual, they should be truly spiritual as well.

For these reasons, the traditional explanations of this text make no sense to me at all. One thing I do know is this; God doesn’t expect you to give 100 percent of what you have so that you have absolutely nothing left and you are utterly and completely destitute. But that’s the only obvious principle here if you’re going to draw a principle. Besides, why would you inject the principle in giving in a context like this? This is no place to interject, “Oh by the way, a few words on giving.” What in the world does that have to do with anything? Jesus makes no comment about giving except that she gave more than everybody else relative to what she had. She is not commended. They are not condemned. No one’s attitude or spirit in the giving is discussed. And no principle regarding giving is drawn by our Lord. The narrative is not intended to deal with any of those matters. The reason the Lord doesn’t say anything about it is that’s not what it’s about. And if you look at the context before and after, this is all about the condemnation of wicked spiritual leaders and a corrupt religious system that is about to be destroyed. In fact, in verse 5, the passage immediately after this, some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, and He said, “As for these things which you’re looking at, the days will come in which there will be not one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

So that is what it’s not about. It’s not about giving your all, giving until it hurts, giving so that you have little left, etc. It’s not about any of that at all. Which I suppose raises the question “If not that, then what IS it about?”

PART 2:

“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, for they all out of their surplus put into the offering, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.’” Luke 21:1-4.

So I think it’s pretty clear what this text is not about. This passage has nothing to do with Jesus commending a widow for giving much, and exhorting us to do likewise. That is nowhere in the text at all. That’s just made up. It doesn’t even have to do with giving at all, and I’ll make the case that this is not a obscure of difficult passage to understand. It’s not even a particularly deep or insightful observation, but rather is simple. In the midst of his pronouncements of judgment and woe Jesus saw a widow give more than everybody else. In other words, her involvement in religion cost her more than it cost anybody else because it cost her everything. That’s all it is. It’s just an observation which the disciplines weren’t confused about, as they didn’t even ask any questions about it. And so over the course of this post I will hammer away at the same points over and over again to that point across. Fair warning.

Another thing to think about is that it seems the assumption in interpreting this as a model for Christian giving is that Jesus was pleased with what she did. But we don’t see that anywhere. It doesn’t say that at all. It doesn’t say that Jesus was pleased with her gift. It doesn’t say Jesus was pleased with her attitude or with the heart and mind that she gave this. It doesn’t say anything about His attitude at all, though I would make the case that if anything what this widow did in giving her two copper coins displeased Jesus immensely. I think it angered him and her giving this made his blood boil. When I consider my own life, as a Christian man who loves his God and cares for other people and cares about their needs, I have no tolerance for a morally bankrupt religious system that compels a poor, destitute widow who only had two coins left to buy her food for her next meal to give those two coins to said religious system.

The very idea outrages me! Something has gone terribly wrong in a system that encourages and even demands that. How else am I supposed to feel when I see an impoverished woman give to her religion her last hope for life to go home and perhaps die? I feel sick and repulsed just thinking about it. Listen- any religion that is built on the back of the poor is a false religion. What a sad, misguided, woeful, poor victimized lady. It’s tragic and painful, and I think that’s exactly how Jesus saw it. He saw that corrupt system taking the last two pennies out of a widow’s pocket who in her desperation hoped that maybe in that legalistic system her two coins would buy some blessing. The rabbis had said that with alms you purchase your salvation and so here she is, trying to buy her way into heaven, trying to buy relief from her desperation and her destitution. [Contemporary “evangelists” call this ‘seed faith’- “Give me your money and God will multiply it back to you.”] God doesn’t want a widow to give up her last two cents and you can’t find that concept anywhere in the bible at all. In fact, that’s the last thing God would want a widow to do.

The system that had developed in Judaism abused poor people on an economic level and a spiritual level. If I can draw a very similar comparison, anyone who withholds money from needy parents in order to give it to God is in direct disobedience to God and is dishonoring his word and substituting a man-made tradition for God’s Word. Basic human needs come first with God before religious offerings. Listen, God’s law was never given to impoverish people, but to help them, and that’s why it’s so wretched to see that this woman was part of a system that took the last two cents out of her hand on the pretense that this was necessary to please God; to purchase her salvation and to bring her blessing. She was manipulated by a religious system that was corrupt. This is not an illustration of heartfelt, sacrificial giving that pleases the Lord and this is not a model for all of us to follow. And so something very different is going on here. This is not about Jesus honoring giving, this is about a victim of a corrupt system who is literally made absolutely destitute trying to live up to that system and earn heaven.

Verse 1, “And He looked up,” I think this is important. If you read around this chapter, you see that Jesus just spent a chunk of time leveling blistering attacks against the false teachers, compounded with feeling physical drained and we get the image that he’s tired and exhausted and sad and resigned. So you get the image of Him sitting there in a moment of thought before He turns to pronounce the judgment for all his disciples to hear. And when He looked up, Mark 12:41 says, “He saw opposite, the treasury observing how people were putting money into the treasury.” Jesus had said in Matthew 6 that you were to do your giving in secret but the religious system had developed a very public prominent way to do it and Pharisees came along and had trumpets blown announcing their arrival to give, according to Matthew 6. And so Jesus looks up and there He sees the people coming, the treasury and how people were putting money into the treasury.

What is the treasury? Well the court in which Jesus was sitting is a large open court in the temple area called the Court of the Women. There was an inner court where only the men could go, but in this particular court both men and women could mingle, and it was in this court that Jesus taught on occasion. And Jesus calls this place that he’s looking at the treasury because there was a section of it that the leaders had designed as the place you give your money. They had set up 13 shofar-trumpet shapes in which people dropped their money. And each of them had a sign on the bottom of it indicating exactly what that money was to be used for. Old shekel dues, new shekel dues, bird offerings, wood, incense, gold, free will, etc, and they all were labeled and people would go by and they would in very open courtyard, publicly put their giving on display. As it were, we see several warnings in the bible that false religion is always about money in some way or another. When you get to the treasury, you get to the heart of false religion, and in this case the religious system demanded money in order make the guys who were in charge of it comfortable and prosperous and wealthy

Then there is the woman herself; a poor widow. That should sound very familiar to us because a few verses back we see Jesus saying “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes and love respectful greetings in the market places and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses” These are people who are building their success monetarily on the backs of widows. And so what happens? Jesus brings the pain and indicts them for their severe abuse of widows, along with the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the scribes who operated the system that abused the poor and the defenseless for whom they had only disdain. We know that these people any poor widow as being under the judgment of God, that’s why she was a poor widow. Furthermore, widows were women and women were second-class, and Pharisees every day prayed, “Lord, make me not a Gentile or a woman.” And because they were widows, they were defenseless and easy prey.

So what does this scene in particular show us? You have Jesus talking about poor widows being devoured and then nearly in the same breath he sees an example of this abuse. That was all. Nothing is said about her attitude, nothing is said about her spirit, nothing said about whether she did it in desperation or devotion, whether she did it in legalism or love, it doesn’t say anything about that. The Lord doesn’t commend her, doesn’t make her an example, doesn’t validate what she did, doesn’t say it was a worthy spiritual act that greatly pleased Him. All He said was, this religious system is preying on widows, this cost her more than everyone else. She put in relatively, comparatively more than anyone. The religious leaders were devouring widows and the more desperate these poor widows became the more they thought they needed to buy God’s blessing. Belittled by the establishment because they were thought to be in that state because of divine punishment, second-class women, they were defenseless, easily exploited and the system exploited them to the max. And so they took the last two cents of the poor woman and it was all, the end of verse 4 says, she had to live on, it was literally her life. She would probably go home and die.

Jesus isn’t commending her; she’s a victim. He’s not proud of her. He’s not making her an example of sacrificial giving. This is an absurdity. He is observing the corruption of the system that is going to be destroyed under the leadership of these corrupt condemned leaders. They’re exploiting the most defenseless, the most impoverished. Jesus certainly is not saying she gave her last cent and that’s what you should do, of course not. He doesn’t want you to give up everything you’ve got and go home and die. He’s given us richly all things to enjoy. It says nothing about percentages, nothing about proportional giving, nothing about giving with the right spirit, nothing about the measure of the gift is what you have left, nothing about giving up everything and living on faith. That’s not here. He’s observing the false religion that preys on the weak and the desperate and the defenseless and holds out hope to the hopeless if they just give their money. I don’t think Jesus was happy. I think Jesus was angry. And that’s why He says in verse 6, “As for the things which you’re looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” And the disciples say, “When’s it going to happen?” And He says, “It’s going to happen,” and He describes it in the remainder of the chapter.

I don’t know why pastors insist on reading into this text and eisegeting into it these ideas of the joys of giving all we have. There’s no denying that those ideas are imported. If you saw a widow give her last two cents to some religious organization in the hope that she could purchase salvation or purchase blessing, or buy healing, or buy prosperity, you wouldn’t commend her, you’d want to stop her and you’d want to shut down that religious system that preys on the desperate. This act did not please our Lord. She’s simply been taught falsely and she bought in to a system that destroyed her. No praise is given of her act or her attitude. She’s caught in the corruption of the system at the hands of those wretched leaders. She has given her last coins to a false religion. Jesus is angry. And that’s why He’ll destroy this den of robbers, which goes down in AD 70. This has to do with a woman giving all she had to a corrupt system, Jesus observing that she had indeed given her all, and reinforcing the idea that what this woman was doing was not right and that she was being preyed on by widow-devourers who were engaged in an ungodly spiritual scam which Jesus condemned and rejected. That’s it.That’s all there is to it. It’s simple and it’s easy to understand and it doesn’t need to be tinkered with or bred with assumed external interpolations in order to be made clear. This passage is not for us. We are not to emulate this woman who is being taken advantage of. If anything it’s a warning to us that we do not do the same, and put not our trust in broken systems that enslave us to works righteousness and the law, but rather put our trust in the loving mercies of Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and for salvation.




The above article was copied exactly as it appeared at the source website: Both parts have been re-written and condensed into a new article (which I will update on this page as soon as possible). You can read the author’s original article at this link. Article is property of the author, whom can be contacted by visiting this link.



35 Responses to “The Myth of the Widow’s Mite”

  • It’s amazing that the context of the widow is ignored when the widow was just an example of how the scribes an Pharisees devour widows’ homes and demand widows’ sacrificial giving while they live it up. Good article with a lot of passion and long wind. :-)

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  • Ahem, if the “long-wind” comment was directed at me (hehe), I am happy to say that I am not to blame for this article… That having been said, I agree man (and I wouldn’t mind if I was blamed for the article)… I liked this guy’s perspective and that’s why I shared it. Reminds me of the audio message on this subject by Gary Carpenter. My buddy Matt turned me on to this article the other day.

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  • Jaz Savinon:

    Absolutely LOVED this article!!! Thanks for posting!!!

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  • This is such a good article. It is read in our chruch for over 2,000 years. So did Jesus like to use the widow to show that our offering whether rich or poor should be very careful of the potential false ministries that prey on the elderly,widow,grandmothers and other people that are poor. Why did Jesus not see a widower (man) doing this with his mite? It says that women were second class and exploited. That happens today with the legalistic corrupt leaders. Thank you for helping me understand this verse more. It’s like a someone wearing a mask. I have felt like this women too. Im not a widow. Im divorced and have raised a family. My marriage did not last like the widow in this story. I just feel like that maybe back in that time they women could not get help with important matters. Jesus must have been angry. It mad him angry that someone with her stature gave all she had and did not make it a big deal. Today it is much the same system. So many corrupt reglious systems.

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  • Great comment Diane!

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  • I think the article is a little laboured. However, I applaud the author for his insight and for challenging me to look again at the passage. Indeed I am extremely grateful to the author – it smashes open our pretentious attitude to giving in the church. Non-believers would no doubt see the error of our traditional teaching for what it is while we are willing lemmings.

    I would like to draw you to 2 articles which I found by Googling ‘Widows mite’. The first is an endorsement and expansion of this article. It is more scholarly and maybe less accessible but I was very struck by its comment. Biblical understanding is supposed to help us live right but how much does our own understanding twist the Bible’s message to simply endorse what we already are led to believe.

    The second article is a Sunday school lesson on the Widow’s mite which puts all its weight on the traditional view on the passage. Many would hold that its conclusions are orthodox but after reading this article my only conclusion can be that our children are being taught a lie. This is a damning indictment on the church which would elicit the strongest condemnation of Jesus. Its staggering.

    Links:
    http://bit.ly/hg7ZFg
    http://bit.ly/hvxNIV

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  • Jason:

    from the article:
    ‘Which I suppose raises the question “If not that, then what IS it about?”’

    I keep reading after that question but I am not finding an answer. Would you mind distilling a bit and stating what it is about?

    Also, I am confused on what is said in regards to God’s desire for giving and sacrificial giving. This is one passage, there are many referring to money… actually money and its use/stewardship of is actually mentioned more times in the Bible than Hell and Salvation.

    The dogmatic assert of “Jesus isn’t commending her; she’s a victim. He’s not proud of her. He’s not making her an example of sacrificial giving. This is an absurdity.” even if all the Bible consisted of this only passage does not add up to logic and reason.

    Scripture is tested with scripture, not with wordly wisdom and speculative pseudo-deduction. Using the reason of ‘If He wanted to say “Now you need to give like the widow, she had a good attitude and she gave a maximum percentage and what she had left behind was little. This is the kind of sacrificial giving that we’re after.”’ This seems to wildly mix different things… and by that this does not in any way clarify but confuses.

    First issue seems to be the selfishness of those that literally profited from the giving. The second issue which is largely a part of the first, appears to be about compulsory giving. The third issue then appears to deal with our heart’s and thus motives in giving.

    So, dealing only with the third issue I am confused on remarks that Jesus, had he wanted to commend her, would have said so explicitly. Does that assertion stand up to the rest of scripture? The question as to why this was in the midst of Jesus’ obvious condemnation of the hypocritical and ungodly tyranny by the religious leaders begs the question as to whether at the time this was written, would such be seen as a ‘continuation’ or a separate matter? Then there is the question of the original Greek literature form(s)… was this passage and that of the previous and later ones all in the same style? What were the actual ancient Greek words and what about analogies used at the time (that most likely make no sense to us now)?

    Matthew 6:21 states, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. This is but one of the vast references to God informing us of proper attitudes towards his varied blessings to each one of us. If we are to start deducing and splitting hairs, then such should ONLY be done with God’s wisdom where we are commanded to ‘test the spirits’ (which refers to testing with scripture, not our own worldly wisdom). It’s largely believed that when Jesus (just after the referred to passage of the OP) referred to the tearing down of the temple as both the destruction of the temple decades later but also (due to a context honoring view of ALL of scripture) that as he says to the Sanhedrin, it will be destroyed but he will “raise IT” in 3 days.

    So yes, the physical temple was destroyed, yet look at the wording… did he say, I will be raised in 3 days and establish My Church… oh yeah guys, 7 decades from now the actual temple will be razed. I get confused with inconsistent standards and ‘templates of understanding’, thus my confusion here.

    Again, I split things up because they must be to understand properly. Maybe she felt she must give that to be ‘saved’ due to her following the commands of the religious leaders. The reasoning of “if Jesus wanted to say yadda yadda yadda, then why didn’t he say so” falls flat on its face when you try to apply that same reasoning to ask, “Why didn’t Jesus explicitly say such was not what He wanted” (much like with Luke 11:42 where he says that yes, they SHOULD tithe but ALSO not neglect the more important things). Another passage inline with this is Psalm 40:6. I have run out of time, but everyone here who is a seeker of God’s Truth and not that of man’s will understand it is their duty to do their homework, the info is readily available… but remember that the Bible ALWAYS trumps anyone’s commentary or person views.

    In closing, I am lucky to have a Pastor that preaches that God uses giving as a) a way to bring our hearts more inline with his gracious and servant nature and b) because while he could ‘magically’ make money and things appear to those that need it, God states all through the Bible that he works through imperfect beings and that “My Grace is made perfect in the imperfect”.

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  • Jason, that’s quite a long post and you pose a few questions. You say:

    “Scripture is tested with scripture, not with worldly wisdom and speculative pseudo-deduction”.

    That’s not entirely true. Yes scripture should be tested against scripture but it must also stand to reason. I don’t mean worldly reason but the intelligence God has given us. Several times we are asked (in scripture) to think through what God has said to see if it makes any sense. Of course it always does because he is God but many preachers fall into error because they abandon natural reason.

    The argument is not so much about what Jesus said as what is recorded. We can only speculate on everything Jesus said but the narrative is there to give us God’s perspective on the situation and to hear everything Jesus said might not have clarified the message for us. If you take everything into consideration (where the story appears, who are the players, what do we hear Jesus say) the supposition that the widow is being honoured has very little to commend it. The weight is on the criticism of the authorities. Throughout scripture the picture of the widow is one of being a victim who is oppressed by men and whose cause is upheld by God.

    You seem to be confused about Jesus saying that the temple will be destroyed then raised in 3 days. Its pretty clear that Jesus was talking about himself though he knew the authorities were misinterpreting it. I believe that was intentional. The destruction in 70AD is another matter (though related).

    I think your pastor has it wrong. Giving is an expression of our devotion to God. Its the overflow of our hearts. Paul teaches that we are a new creation and in that sense our giving proves that we are truly transformed. You are saying that giving is redemptive which it isn’t. I have a big problem with this teaching because greedy tele-evangelists use it to justify fleecing widows and orphans. They are the living embodiment of the story of the widow’s mite.

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  • I concur with Chris Price’s excellent response, but just wanted to add that while you mention you are glad you have a pastor that preaches giving, I have often found it curious that pastors most always interpret “giving” in terms of money given in offerings to their church. Jesus gave His life on the cross; this was the ultimate gift, yet it had nothing to do with money or churches, and still it remains our example. We are to give our bodies as “living sacrifirces”. Preachers always turn this subject into a money issue. I think a large part of the reason is because they operate on the flawed concept of ministry as being a profession and they need money to keep their profession alive. It’s not always a matter of greed either. I do not think all pastors preach the way they do about money because they are greedy, but I do believe their perspective is influenced because of their “profession”. In fact, I know this first hand from many pastors I’ve spoken with. The Bible does not reveal any example of an apostle that took a salary for his service. Paul, in fact, rejected payment for his ministry and called others to follow in his example. Yet, somehow, preachers today almost unanimously cling to their “right” to receive pay rather than following Paul’s instruction or the example of Jesus and His apostles from Scripture. Consequently, because preachers already operate in large part under a flawed and unbiblical mindset concerning giving, they tend to interpret passages like this one (the widow’s mite) as the prime example for filling up their offering baskets. Sigh… All through the Old Testament God expressly shares concern for the treatment of widows who were too often abused and neglected. The logical deduction from this passage is that God’s mind has not changed concerning the treatment of widows and every bit of context from this passage reveals Jesus’ aggravation with the religious leaders and what this Temple system has become. Jesus had already pronounced its doom when He said, “See your House is left to you EMPTY and DESOLATE!” He told them they had made the house of prayer to be a den of thieves. He follows the matter of the widow by rebuking His disciples for marveling at religious buildings and then reminds them that not one stone will be left upon another in this Temple. It seems all logic and reason point clearly to His disgust over the treatment of this widow (how the religious leaders take advantage of her), but she is just as sorrowfully ignorant and wrong as they are because she has succumbed to this ungodly mindset. I think there is compassion in Jesus’ voice as much as there is disgust. He sees her casting in all she had and notes this fact, but I do not believe for one second that He is commending or affirming her action. Nothing in the context seems to point me to any such conclusion… least of all cause it to serve as an example for giving to a church (for you would have to presume that the Temple was some kind of parallel of a modern day church building, which makes no biblical sense either). No matter what we deduct about this passage, the reality is that there is simply no parallel between this story and giving to a church. The simple fact of the matter is, there is no physical Temple anymore and no requirement to dump money into a religious organization’s bucket. Giving is a matter of the heart, inspired by God’s love and the example of Christ. Giving is also a matter of individual obedience to the Spirit of God, not some dictate or manipulative message by a preacher who wants to get more money in his offering plate. I know that organizations have expenses and people may freely give to them if they so desire, but the widow’s mite has nothing to do with this subject and I wish preachers would stop attempting to twist the Word of God for their benefit.

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  • Jan Willem:

    I read this article after watching John McArthurs sermons on abusing the poor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Giwv_z5TXPA

    The major part of this article seem to have come straight from this sermon or could it have been the other way around?

    Good points though!

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  • Eric Darty:

    you just went circle with your comment, there is point at all, I tried to read in again but did not get anything.

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  • Eric Darty:

    correction pls. what I’m saying is that.. there is NO point at all. but anyway, thanks.

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  • Thanks for your comments Eric. Just for your information, the article your referring to was not written by me. If you have comments you would also like to direct to the author, the source links are shown at the close of the article. That having been said, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by there being “no point at all.” The article seems to be very clear and precise in its presentation and composition. The typical angle on this story (which is preached by most institutional church pastors) is that the woman was being commended by Jesus for casting all she had (and many pastors use this story as a lead up to taking the offering – no doubt hoping that the widows in the congregation will also cast in all they have). The author is pointing out how the typical religiously-imposed concept actually stands in contention with the overall theme and context of the entire passage of Scripture here. The point is that Jesus was not likely praising her, let alone the system she was a victim of. The whole context involves Jesus looking in disgust and rebuking the leaders of this grand religious system who regularly took advantage of poor widows, just like this widow.

    The author also closes part one of his article with a question. He says, “So that is what it’s NOT about. It’s not about giving your all, giving until it hurts, giving so that you have little left, etc. It’s not about any of that at all. Which I suppose raises the question “If not that, then what IS it about?” Perhaps you could offer some comments Eric in response to his question. Do you agree with the traditional view of this passage? If so, why? What do you find unreasonable about the premise of this article? What is your point my friend? It would be great if you could elaborate for a more substantial discussion; however, I appreciate you sharing your opinion none-the-less. Thanks. :)

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  • Pastor Pete:

    I agree with the traditional view of this passage and think the commentator has spent way too much time in his private cubicle. The text isn’t that complicated. The widow had nothing and gave all she had, and that was an impressive act in the sight of God. She had every reason to keep her two leptons, but gave them anyway. Let’s not muddy the waters here.

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  • Of course Pastor Pete agrees with the traditional view… He probably also thinks “Pastor” is his first name. ;) Pastors generally love the traditioinal view because it tends to afford them the opportunity to manipulate their congregations to put more money in the plate, even though this passage of Scripture has NOTHING to do with putting money in a church offering plate. The context is clear… unfortunately, I think the “pastor” is wrong. But then, that’s my opinion as well. Sorry if my response is a little more spirited than usual. I’m just fed up with preachers getting sloppy and lazy with Scripture to manipulate their congregations to give them more money. Thankfully, less people are buying into the traditional professional pastor’s view and taking the whole of what Scripture teaches into full consideration. This article’s take on the widow’s mite has nothing against spirit-led, heart-felt, love-motivated giving in accord with the inspiration of Christ’s grace. The only reason I can see anyone getting offended at this article is if they see a possibility that it might cause people to stop giving mindlessly into the church offering plate and rather seek the Lord first and give solely according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the motivation of Christian love. I’m not against anyone giving money, even into a church offering plate – if the Lord directs them. I’m just weary of pushy preachers with their religious mindsets tainting God’s Word at every turn. Thankfully, they’re not all this way and some have good intentions but are still blinded by their tradition. May God help all of us see more clearly and learn to follow Him more completely.

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  • I believe that tradition carries weight and that any challenge to orthodox belief bears the burden of proof. But the traditional view has only one thing to commend it. The Pharisees were condemned for giving out of their wealth when this widow gave out of her poverty. The only lesson the traditional view can draw from this is that the church and all Christians are under condemnation unless they become so poor they struggle to feed themselves and they must do so willingly. That is absurd nonsense.

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  • Shean Smith:

    The words “tradition” and “orthodox” have nothing at all to do with Jesus Christ and following him. Both of these words come from the Roman Catholic Church and have nothing at all to do with Jesus and his followers. For instance, the word “church” didn’t exist until the 4th century AD. The above article isn’t going by tradition/orthodox; it’s going by the history of the time period (as opposed to church-pagan history) and is examined by a priest within the kingdom of priests (a Jesus follower). The dear pastor and his compatriots are Nicolaitans and are “people conquerors” by being unscriptural “pastors;” “pastor is a gift–not a position. Anything that comes from a pastor and/or traditionalist mouth and view point is corrupt and perverse. Every New Testament parable and story that’s explained via traditional/orthodox view point can be better understood as smurf-odox because everything they emit comes from Roman Catholicism who leaders dress like a bunch of evil smurfs (black and red). Just because a story or understanding has some nuggets of truth doesn’t mean it’s truth; Scripture is true, but when it’s laced with tradition/orthodoxy, it kills. Scripture and the historical context the Scripture was written in is what is needed to understand it. Rat poison is 99.99% edible food, but it’ll kill a rat graveyard dead. Jesus Christ is quite able to lead his followers into all truth without a smurf or smurfodox.

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  • Don:

    Shean Smith sounds like he has not axe to grind, so he’s certainly objective in his view. Ignorance of the Church (of Jesus Christ all over the world regardless of denomination or fellowship)and what it is– is true the rat poison described. Being someone who for many years questioned and mocked organized churches and dismissed them as places of hypocrisy and stealing from the poor, I see that given the chance, it is possible to be in a church that does what Jesus said. This article writer dismissed all of the major viewpoints of commentators who spent thousands of hours, sometimes decades in studying the original languages and digging the archaeology of the bible, and then USES the translations they labouredly spent many years to translate while scrutinizing and accepting criticism from others of opposing views with equal education– in order to say that they are ALL WRONG! That is like the fool that says in his heart there is no God. If you can’t even show respect to the folks that wrote it out for you to read, you are still trusting in your own small-minded interpretation, and that has led many thousands, millions down the wrong paths often creating false religions as they went. May God give you brokenness instead of arrogance. Remember, just because you can read, and your idea is different doesn’t make you right. Often, YOU are wrong. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

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  • mark:

    From a sermon that I am preaching this Sunday:

    “(Jesus) DOES state a fact about her action. He points out that she gave more than everyone else, because in ratio to her earning potential, she gave all that she had. What does He NOT do? He doesn’t use any adjectives that specifically commend her action, or her motivations. And the passage does NOT specifically refer to the reason the widow gave what she did. Some believe that Jesus was doing nothing more using her as an example of someone who was a victim of the scribes. If she was giving to God in faith, then that is something that we can only infer from the text, and opposed to it being stated explicitly! BUT, I believe that the widow was giving in faith. I think it’s a safe bet, and here’s why. First, Jesus called the disciples to Him, which shows that He was so moved by what He saw that it was important enough to point out to everyone in His inner circle. Secondly, He doesn’t say “here’s an example of what I was talking about earlier”; instead, He contrasts her with those who gave out of their super-abundance. If you heard this story for the first time, without any traditional church interpretation, but also without an axe to grind against churches (and the televangeliars who promise that God will make you rich if you give sacrificially), I think that you would probably still conclude that Jesus was commending what the woman did.”

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  • I don’t suppose you’re planning to take up an offering after your message are you Mark? ;) I hear you my friend, but I respectfully disagree. Most church folks tend to interpret “giving to God” primarily in terms of money to their church organization (something that the New Testament does not ever envision). That having been said, one thing is certain about this text; Jesus was not making some parallel to church offerings. The Temple, in Scripture, is NEVER a picture of a modern church organization so there is no application. I am not opposed to sacrificial giving, but it must be Spirit led and by love without any compulsion.

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  • There are 2 problems with Mark’s argument. The first is the assumption that everyone who interprets this story the way the author does has the tele-evangelists in their sights. The second is that silence on the Gospel writer’s part favours the straightforward interpretation that Jesus was claiming that the widow was virtuous. I have no problem with church giving but I do object to a passage being used as a proof text when there is scant evidence to back it up. If sacrificial giving is what God wants give me a text that explicitly says that.

    On the second point I would cite the story of Jephtha who supposedly sacrificed his daughter after God gave him victory. The natural meaning is that he did something abominable yet the Bible is silent and never condemns him. The more sensible reading is that he dedicated his daughter to the Lord in which case she would have to remain a virgin. This would explain why she went out with her friends and wept as child bearing would have validated her as a woman.

    When its unclear why the Bible tells a story or what the meaning is, that is a good reason to search for hidden clues rather than to simply say we should take it on face value. Its not an obscure interpretation that Jesus was condemning the Pharisees rather than praising the woman. In fact it makes more sense because we are not left with questions as to why the Bible is not more explicit.

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  • Dan:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the view of the widow’s mite espoused here and by McArthur. There’s too much said in the context of this teaching (and in both Mark and Luke) to make to traditional view hold water. However, I commend Mark and Pete for coming on here knowing their character would be smeared without viable proof. I agree largely with Don above (and yes, we are different people). I’m a pastor of a small church, and the job is not the easiest. Though considered full-time, I must do other work to care for my family of seven. My wife stays home and homeschools, so that leaves me to earn support. We all work hard with gardening, animal raising, etc. so we don’t have to get down to our last two bits.

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  • Dan, I think you make some very good points. My position is that the traditional view of this story is wrong but criticising pastors for their supposed apostasy is a little ridiculous to say the least. My character was called into question on another thread and I think its sad that we have to be so narrow and exclusive in our views. Its too easy, when you think you’ve seen the light, to jump on your soap box and preach your own gospel. Shean’s position that [anything coming out of the Catholic church is poison] is ignorant and though I agree that ‘pastor’ is a gift and not a position, its the heart that counts, not a label. Apostle Paul expressly tells us not to fall out over debatable matters that do not impact on our salvation yet we hurt our brother by being critical.

    Fellowship in the Holy Spirit is far more important than whether we tithe or not. But like Jesus might have said to the Pharisees, “You should be majoring on the camels without neglecting the gnats”.

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  • Thank you for your comments Dan. I really wish more pastors would just drop the term “full-time ministry”, which implies that serving the Lord and serving God’s people is a profession. I’m sorry if this offends someone, but the Scripture has no design for ministry as a profession. Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and mammon. If you think about the concept of “full-time ministry” that’s exactly what is happening; pastors are suggesting (on the one hand) that they are serving God because He called them to serve, and then also say they are serving God for a paycheck. So, who is really the master here? Can both be? What if there is no guarantee of a paycheck, will that pastor continue to serve because God called him? Or will he say, “I can no longer serve because I cannot afford it.” I hope my reasoning here is understandable.

    Lots of ministers like to point to Scripture and talk about their “right” to be compensated for service, but Scripture really only has designs for itinerant Gospel workers and even then Paul instructed others with this calling to follow his example and work for a living. A pastor (in today’s understanding) is typically someone who serves on a local level and does not travel a lot. They are part of a Christian community and therefore static in location. For this reason it is right that they get a job just like their other brothers and sisters in that community.

    The idea that the pastor is supposed to be the super Christian of the community is ridiculous, but this is exactly what many Christians seem to expect. They treat the folks who occupy this role as though they were Moses (and, unfortunately, some who occupy this role like this comparison). But a pastor is simply a brother who watches out for the others. He may teach and give care, but he is not more important than any of them, nor should his labors of love require so much effort and time that he is not able to care for his own family and work like any other. I think we have learned to define these roles so much from our religious tradition, rather than from Scripture or even common sense.

    I am not against giving money to support those who serve God in a unique capacity, nor would I intend to discourage others from generosity and love in this manner. But ministry is NOT a profession and any man or woman who thinks they have the right to expect and exact payment for doing what they have been called to do by God (and for what they chose to do by answering that call), probably need to rethink their priorities and discover who they are really serving; God or mammon. Those who follow such individuals also ought to consider their actions and their doctrine, to see how it compares with the actions and doctrine of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus said in John 10 that a true shepherd (pastor) is NOT a hireling! A hireling is not really a dirty word at all; it just means “someone who takes a paycheck.” Jesus often made statements to this regard and the disciples were always asking Jesus, “Do you realize how you offended the religious leaders by your words?” and the text also remarks that they were offended because they loved money or, in other words, had made themselves servants of mammon more than God.

    While I understand that good men and women that serve God in the role of pastor often do give so much of their lives in service and sometimes struggle to make ends meet, I have to say that I fail to understand their complaints when I challenge them on this point of ministry as a profession. They may struggle sometimes to make ends meet, but so do the rest of us! I’ve had pastors tell me, “You don’t realize how hard I work to support my family along side of serving the church organization and my day job hardly pays enough to make ends meet.” To which I must respond, “So how does this complaint differ from anyone else who works for a living and has a call on their life to serve God, whether in the role of pastor or otherwise? Stop complaining and get to work.” I’m really not intending to sound cold. I’m simply pointing out that just because you feel a call to serve others does not make you more special than them, nor does it qualify you to excuse yourself from the burden of working for a living just like those you are serving. Many pastors talk about serving the “church” when what they really mean is the organization called church, which is not simply the biblical Church. They are adding to their own burden by embracing a concept that Scripture does not direct them to embrace. I work a full time job (sometimes put in overtime)… but I also serve in my community in various ways and involve myself politically as well. I also manage several websites on the side (not just this one), and still find time to read and study and care for my family and spend time with other folks in the body of Christ. A pastor should not be thought of any differently. Yes, his service should be appreciated and honored by the rest of us in the family of God, but if a pastor is over-working himself, that mostly tells me that he has a problem. He has bought into the notion that he is supposed to be a modern Moses for the people in his community. He’s also likely not relying on the Holy Spirit more than his own strength or helping others in his community to understand that he is not the super Christian for the group and they are to bear one another’s burdens and carry their own load as well. If he is doing so much that he can’t care for his own family and must complain that serving God costs more than he can afford then…. sorry… I think this is a personal problem he has, and I don’t receive the guilt trips these individuals sometimes often lay on the rest of us if we don’t cry over how hard they have it.

    Given the whole context of the New Testament regarding matters such as these, I am of the opinion that this article’s view of the Widow’s Mite is correct. I do not believe Jesus was endorsing her gift though He certainly did notice the magnitude of it. I’m sure he had compassion, but I do believe He was calling the disciples to recognize the error of this entire system. Remember that it was only a couple verses later, after the event with the widow, that Jesus pointed out “not one stone in this building will be left upon another” while the disciples marveled at the beauty of this religious edifice.

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  • Some really good comments Chris… However, if I may ask a friendly question… Could you possibly elaborate as to which parts of Shean’s comments regarding the Catholic Church did you consider to be ignorant? Perhaps I am at a bit of an unfair advantage here as I know Shean personally and appreciate his zeal and his sense of humor.

    I have to say that I do think he is correct about the term “orthodoxy”, which first appeared in the 500’s and the Catholic Church did make emphasis of this terminology to highlight a contrast from those they regarded as “unorthodox” or “heretics”, which meant a deviation from Roman Catholic doctrine. The terms orthodox and tradition are so heavily used by the Roman Catholic brand that they indeed intend to supersede and override Scripture. That is as matter of Catholic doctrinal fact. So, all I’m saying is that I see his point and it doesn’t really strike me as ignorant when you receive the context he is presenting it in (and don’t get offended by the reference to smurfodoxy).

    As far as I have been able to determine from my own studies, he’s also correct about the term “church” not appearing until the 4th century. “Church” is not an accurate definition of the Greek word “ecclesia”. William Tyndale recognized this when he authored his translation of the Bible and was soon after burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church who labeled him an unorthodox, heretical deviant from the church and its tradition. King Jame’s version also included specific rules to include this terminology despite better evidence to the contrary! So, I’m simply saying that I get his point… and I get yours too… but I was just curious where the “ignorant” comment came from. Maybe I missed something.

    Of course the term “orthodox” might make sense if we are simply talking about carefully keeping what Jesus actually taught, but I don’t believe that was Shean’s point. While the word “tradition” may also have its potential for positive use, I think it is clear that Jesus himself rebuked the religious leaders of His day for following their religious traditions while excusing the command of God. Even more He even rebuked them for thinking that Life was found by searching the Scriptures, when they failed to realize that those Scriptures were intended to bring them to a place of relationship with the Lord. I believe this is the context of Shean’s referral. Certainly most people know that the Catholic Church makes grand use of what they call Tradition and they do hold it above Scripture and certainly above relationship with Christ (which they believe is impossible without adhering strictly to Church tradition and dogma). To this end, their concept of Tradition has infected the masses so that, even among Protestants, tradition ends up being an obstacle (many times) to Truth and relationship with Christ. Tradition takes on the flavor of MAN’S methods of pleasing God, irrespective of faith and truth.

    I think it’s also true that much of the slant on many passages of Scripture we all have learned do come with measurable influence from Catholic tradition and orthodoxy. I have written before about how the term “Protestant” is really not one that I like to use to describe myself either because my relationship with Christ is NOT the product of protest to any man-made religion. The Protestant Church, in fact, was born of Catholicism and its original leaders sought to “re-form” the man-made Catholic Church they were of, rather than simply discard it or leave it. This thinking has carried forward to today and, even outside of Catholicism or Protestantism, we have people who think we need to seek a “reformation” to essentially “fix” the modern problem-child church system. I disagree! Re-Form is NOT the answer! Why should we seek to fix what God never ordained to begin with? Would it not be better to simply follow the Master where He leads? All this concern over “church” and “reformation” and bla bla bla truly makes me ill.

    I do agree with your comments my brother that “fellowship in the Holy Spirit is far more important than whether we tithe or not.” I agree that we ought not strain at gnats while swallowing camels (I like how you put it better). It is important that we not club each other over debatable details while ignoring the most important things that unite us in Christ. We certainly can all benefit from the exercise of love.

    Thanks everyone for the comments! I really appreciate the discussion!

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  • Bob:

    Right on with unbiased truth seeking! Was Jesus likewise misunderstood in illustrating wrongful angelic ministry at the pool at Bethesda?

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  • Thanks for your comments Bob. Good observation about the passage in John 5:4 (where it was believed by the Jews that an angel troubled the water of the pool at Bethesda and healed people). I never thought of that before; that Jesus might have been exposing an error. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians speak positively about the angel troubling the waters and there are even Gospel songs written about it. What a lot of people don’t know (and I didn’t know either until I looked this up after you raised the question), it is a fact that the oldest and best manuscripts of Scripture that have been found do not include verse 4 at all! Many scholars are certain that this verse was added much later and coincides with the fact that the Jews frequently attributed healing favors to the angels of God. Likely they observed the waters beginning to ripple and presumed an angel was troubling the water. I am not personally opposed to the idea that God could provide miraculous healing through unique and supernatural means; however, I also believe it is true that springs have often been discovered throughout history that contained medicinal properties because of the various mineral content and other factors and I can believe that there would be people that superstitiously apply imaginative logic to this (beyond simply giving God the credit for provide natural aids to healing that are present in the earth that He has made for our benefit). I also am not certain that the Scripture attributes healing power to angels. In fact, the only verse I ever remember hearing as a proof text for this idea was John 5:4. God, we know, is the healer. Your observation is excellent Bob because nowhere in this passage (John chapter 5) does Jesus give any endorsement for the pool or what the people believed about it (or the fact that the sick man thought he missed his opportunity), but He just healed the man and Jesus gave the credit to the Father! I like it bro! Great observation! Thanks for sharing that! :)

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  • As far as I can tell Jesus neither condemned nor accepted the story of the angels stirring the waters nor does the fact that it was missing from the earliest manuscripts prove anything. Its commonly held that the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery was not written by John and it almost certainly doesn’t belong where it is. But we have no reason to believe it never happened. Jesus story of Lazarus and Abraham’s bosom is most likely Jesus relating hell to a commonly held belief of the day about death. I reckon Jesus was quite happy to pass on certain traditions simply because it served no purpose to correct them. Certain apocryphal writings are quoted in the New Testament though we don’t hold them as inspired. I think we tend to be quite anal about scripture when Jesus was much more relaxed.

    We tend to be obsessed with inerrancy when Jesus was pretty relaxed because he was much more confident that the truth would set you free.

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  • Thanks for the comments Chris… I certainly didn’t think anyone was being “anal” about this discussion. I also wasn’t trying “prove” anything by my comments (nor did I get any such impression by Bob, so I’m not sure where that came from exactly)… Oh well, no big deal… I thought Bob’s comment was an interesting observation and, really, is just as probable as the conclusions made in this article about Jesus and the Widow’s mite. I found the details about the verse missing from the oldest and best manuscripts interesting but I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest some kind of Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy is at hand. LOL… I don’t think either of us were expressing obsession with our point of view either. haha… In any case, I agree with you COMPLETELY that Jesus was quite happy to pass on certain traditions simply because it served no purpose to correct them and that was essentially my point as well when I said in conclusion that Jesus paid no attention to the traditional belief of the Jews here (or the fact that the man was worried because he missed his opportunity in the water) but rather simply healed the man and pointed to the Father. Indeed Jesus IS the Truth which sets people free and THAT indeed is the point! :)

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  • Sorry Dave, it certainly wasn’t my intention to suggest anyone here was being unreasonable or petty. It was actually an observation of other Christians who are over zealous in protecting the truth as they see it. It was in no way meant as a dig and I can only apologise. I didn’t even intend attacking the argument but merely to present another view. I think you will agree that the established church is often guilty of dogmatism and straining gnats whereas this article actually opens up, for discussion, a story that has, for too long,been taken as read.

    Did I answer your question about Shean’s summation of orthodoxy and the Catholic church? In my appraisal of Jesus’ attitude to received wisdom such as angels stirring waters leads me to believe that we should not close our minds to what comes from tradition or orthodoxy unless it blinds us to truth.

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  • I’m sorry too Chris because I just realized that somehow I did not approve Bob’s post (so it did not show up at first), so it probably looked like I was just starting off with a new rabbit trail. ;) That having been said, no harm done bro and thanks for the clarification and apology.

    As for Shean’s comments, I honestly have to say I think he’s putting it mildly. While you might be right that not everything that comes out of the Catholic Church is “poison”, I tend to think you could make the same argument about a lot of things that are spiritually dangerous. The Roman Catholic Church is, in my honest opinion, a spiritually dangerous thing. That doesn’t mean I believe every person who is in the Catholic Church is “evil”, but they are under evil’s influence and, short of God calling them to be there for some purpose of outreach, I do not believe this is a godly institution by any stretch of the imagination. They have used “Tradition”, time and again and again and again, to manipulate the congregations and distort the Scriptures and all of this is done in the name of Jesus through an impostor called the Pope (along with his bishops, priests, etc.) that replace Christ with their own authority and doctrines of demons.

    While “Tradition” and “Orthodoxy” may not always contain “evil”, the fact still is that they have nothing to do with what God requires in terms of a life of faith. I understand that both tradition and orthodoxy are intended by man to preserve the truth, but that often becomes much more of a recipe for preserving the doctrines of men and demons. To my mind, I believe it is far more essential to concentrate on Christ Jesus as Lord and let the Holy Spirit truly be our guide than what man slaps his “official” label on and calls “orthodoxy” or “tradition”. Please understand, I am not saying that it is not important to strive to hold on to truth or to seek to put into practice the positive examples we have learned by those who have gone on before us… however, I do not believe this is simply what Roman Catholicism has in mind when it refers to Tradition or Orthodoxy.

    All of that to say that I still agree with Shean’s general point and also am taking into consideration his style of sharing and his sense of humor. After 12 years being out of the church system, God is still flushing the religion out of me and teaching me to be His disciple. Just when I think I’m doing pretty good, the Holy Spirit reveals something else that He desires to change, remove or heal. How could I ever go back to putting stock in things that man label as Orthodox or Tradition and which they may use to manipulate, control or qualify me. My life is hidden in Christ Jesus and He alone is my Lord, my Master. I thank God for the people he brings into my life to sharpen me, encourage me, and even admonish me at times… You, Chris, are one such friend that I sincerely thank the Lord for. Thought we have never met in person, I have been encouraged MANY times by the things you have shared and I so much appreciate you taking the time to share. God uses you in great ways my bro! It is this kind of organic leadership that I will always now prefer over any of the nonsense referred to as orthodox or tradition by some godless organization that pretends to be the mouthpiece for Jesus.

    In His grip,
    Dave

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  • This is probably something we are going to have to differ on. I was once of the opinion that the Catholic church was pure evil having read of the corruption and terrible things it had done in the name of Christ. I read of the pilgrim church, the long line of Christians who had kept the faith, even through the dark ages, and kept the flame of truth alive. But I was counselled by one wise teacher who helped me see that among the tares of Catholicism was wheat.

    I’ve looked at works from the archives of the Catholic church and found incredible wisdom, the like I’ve not read elsewhere. There have been men of great faith who sincerely loved Christ and gave their lives for others who, nonetheless, retained beliefs that we might consider unbiblical. But some of the reformers, in pursuing truth, committed unspeakable acts. I’ve known Christians who would claim to have broken free of tradition who are controlling and spiteful. Their theology is a mess of teachings they have picked up from so called authorities who don’t know what they are talking about.

    The Catholic church has much to be ashamed of. Its worldly power is anathema to Christ’s teachings and I really can’t be done with its veneration of the saints which, I believe, does violence to the scriptures. But Shean’s post (and I can see the humour) is a parody of the Catholic church and its history. It doesn’t warrant an attack on the basis of the theology this article is arguing against. Go to just about any church (free or of any denomination) and it will have taught about the generosity of that widow.

    You could fill a library with the errors and crimes of the Catholic church but to what purpose?

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  • Dave:

    Thanks Chris… I agree with a lot of your perspective bro and I respect your opinion. God knows how “spirited” in my opinions I can be at times and that my own convictions and zeal sometimes get ahead of my patience to lean on the grace of God). Before Jesus, if I am in error about any of my perspective here, I sincerely pray that He will reveal it to my heart and that I will be quick to respond. I have great compassion for the Catholic people. I have some very good friends who are Catholics and though I believe they are blinded by elements of ignorance and deception, I have also observed on several occasions their sincerity and even their expressed desire to know God. I agree with you completely, that there are people in the Catholic Church who love God and that God is at work in their life. I don’t discredit that likelihood one bit.

    However, just because there may be people in pursuit of God or wheat among tares doesn’t mean the institution is not evil, corrupt or diseased. There are “wheat” present in Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness churches, but those organizations are immeasurably corrupted and ungodly. I agree that we ought to love people and grow in the grace of God that helps us to see through Jesus’ eyes when we look at PEOPLE but that doesn’t mean we ought to endorse the organizations they are deceived by and trapped in.

    I do believe the Roman Catholic Church is evil to the core and, for some, it’s too easy to just forget about things like the Inquisition by thinking, “Oh that doesn’t happen today and no one in the Catholic Church today thinks like that.” The truth is, however, that demonic doctrines are just as profoundly evil whether they are practiced physically (as was the case with the Inquisition) or whether they are spiritually invested. In Scripture the Lord regularly used the imagery of harlotry to convey spiritual infidelity. In the eyes of the Lord, both are just as wicked. I do not believe the Catholic Church deserves a “pass” at all. It is wholly infested with satanic doctrines and wicked manipulations and presents an utterly false image of the Church. It actually presumes to take the place of Christ and places itself as an idol between man and God.

    I encourage you to watch the video The Inquisition and the Torture (if possible, I will find a link to post this soon on my site). It will break your heart and sicken you to the evil (the pure and absolute demonic evil that has been propagated as holy by this institution). Many people falsely think that Pope John Paul II repented of the Catholic Church’s errors in the Inquisition but this is NOT true at all. If you read what he actually said, he placed the blame on individuals who acted falsely in the name of the Church. He made it sound like they were not really a true representatives of the Church… What he failed to even acknowledge that the very individuals who presented this “false representation” of the Church WERE ALL POPES! The so-called “vicars of Christ” (vicar means substitute for). In other words, this was no apology at all! It was a blame shift with the impression that the leadership of the Church had nothing directly to do with it, when in fact it was done at their very instruction! Pure evil.

    The Church still teaches disgusting doctrines and embraces new age and occult philosophies. This is a topic too massive to cover here. I’ll just say that I believe the Devil sits on the throne of the Roman Catholic Church and I believe God is calling His people to come out from among her and be separate.

    You are absolutely right that some godly people throughout history have been involved with this organization and institution, but again – this is no justification for that institution.

    Finally, I disagree with you that most churches teach about the generosity of the widow. Many mention this “generosity” but there is context and method to their madness if you will… They use this as a tactic to manipulate people and sometimes coerce people to give sacrificially to the institution. Often times the Widow’s example is mentioned in the same breath as the curse for not tithing. I have seen this in MANY church organizations, so I do not believe it is used simply as an example of generosity.

    But I will admit that there are always exceptions to the norm… I just have not seen very many in my personal experience.

    God bless bro! :)

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  • I think we are covering the same ground here but I do sympathise with your position. There was a debate about whether the Catholic church was a force for good. A British Catholic politician argued in favour of the motion and Stephen Fry (a well known TV personality and an atheist) argued against. Stephen fry was by far the more convincing and what I like about him is that he has no axe to grind about Christianity per se even though he is an atheist. But I think for us to single out the Catholic church is to cast the first stone. Because of its power it was inevitable that the Catholic church would be corrupted but so many have sought to reform the church only to fall into similar error (if not on such a grand scale). I really don’t need to watch that video, I know how monstrous the church has been, but at other times Catholics have championed the values of Christ while other Christians argue theology.

    As I said before, some of the reformers committed unspeakable acts, many of the established denominations either supported or condoned slavery, much of the pentecostal church has Zionist tendencies which have directly inflamed the problems in the middle east at a terrible cost. End time ministries, prosperity teachers and TV evangelists have done immeasurable damage within the church and convinced many that it is irrelevant. The less established churches are often the worst when it comes to emotional abuse. My impression is that Pope John Paul II was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Mother Teresa was abusive rather than kind. The church has handled the pedophile scandal atrociously and deserves all the bad press is gets. I am as critical as you of the Catholic church and have been quite vocal about it but its easy to point the finger. The church as a whole has a less than glorious history and is none the better when it fights with itself.

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  • Aran:

    I think the key is that the Pharisees give from their surplus (which is what is recorded as Jesus’s point).Very, very appropriate for today as the current imbalance of wealth is being challenged once more.
    I think Jesus assumes that we can use our nouse to extrapolate meaning and that he doesn’t always have to spell it out. Quite often, if something is spelled out, a lot is missed that could have been said. Poets are often pleasantly surprised by discussions of their poetry and scientists are often surprised about what other scientists discover from their work. This article as example – as the author has broken out of the usual spellings to an interesting and valid interpretation.
    I would not say that the other interpretations are as wrong as pounded on though.
    I also see this story as being about trust, and that can be interpreted in various ways too. Who trusts whom, why and to what end?

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