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THE POOR WIDOW

1 Pet. 4 (AMP)
11 Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God;


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This study on the Poor Widow has been a tremendous blessing for me and I hope that it will be the same for you. This woman was indeed rich in righteousness, as we will see.

Let's start off by reading the 4 Scriptures in the Bible that are written about her. The story of the Poor Widow is told in Luke 21:1-4 and Mark 12:41-44. Let's look at the amplified version as it gives us more detail.

Mark 12 AMP
"41And He sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich [people] were throwing in large sums. 42And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent. 43And He called His disciples [to Him] and said to them, Truly and surely I tell you, this widow, [she who is] poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury. 44For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had--[even] all she had on which to live."

What are we told directly about the Poor Widow in the Scripture? Not much though we can derive a number of things about her indirectly. We don't know her name, whether she had children. We don't know if Jesus had ever seen her before that day. We are not told those things because they are not pertinent to the point Our Lord was trying to make.

Let's look at a couple of Scriptures to get a grasp on things.

1 Timothy 5:3-4 tells us
"3Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."

Matthew 8:14
"14When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever."

1 Timothy 5
"8If anyone fails to provide for his relatives, and especially for those of his own family, he has disowned the faith [by failing to accompany it with fruits] and is worse than an unbeliever [who performs his obligation in these matters]. 9Let no one be put on the roll of widows [who are to receive church support] who is under sixty years of age or who has been the wife of more than one man; 10And she must have a reputation for good deeds, as one who has brought up children, who has practiced hospitality to strangers [of the brotherhood], washed the feet of the saints, helped to relieve the distressed, [and] devoted herself diligently to doing good in every way. 11But refuse [to enroll on this list the] younger widows, for when they become restive and their natural desires grow strong, they withdraw themselves against Christ [and] wish to marry [again]. 12And so they incur condemnation for having set aside and slighted their previous pledge. 13Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention. 14So I would have younger [widows] marry, bear children, guide the household, [and] not give opponents of the faith occasion for slander or reproach. 15For already some [widows] have turned aside after Satan. 16If any believing woman or believing man has [relatives or persons in the household who are] widows, let him relieve them; let the church not be burdened [with them], so that it may [be free to] assist those who are truly widows (those who are all alone and are dependent)."

So, apparently, just like today, some did not care for their parents and grandparents the way they should and the church did take on that responsibility.

Acts 6:1
"1...the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."

So God expected the children of widows to take care of them and He also expected the church to take care of widows whose children did not live up to their responsibility.  So, we can say that the widow had great faith in and love of God that she would be taken care of. Similar to the faith that Abraham had in God when God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac. When Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb was for the burnt offering, Abraham replied that God Himself would provide. (Gen. 22:7)

The Poor Widow was a woman who didn't have much materially, but who was spiritually rich.  Now, in contrast, let?s take a look at what God says about a man who was rich in material possessions, but was poor spiritually and see how he fares with God.

Luke 12:13-21 AMP
"13Someone from the crowd said to Him, Master, order my brother to divide the inheritance and share it with me. 14But He told him, Man, who has appointed Me a judge or umpire and divider over you? 15And He said to them, Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man's life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs. 16Then He told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man was fertile and yielded plentifully. 17And he considered and debated within himself, What shall I do? I have no place [in which] to gather together my harvest. 18And he said, I will do this: I will pull down my storehouses and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain or produce and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily. 20But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? 21So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares]."

God gives us another story of a rich young man:

Matthew 19:16-21
The Rich Young Man
"16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? 17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." 18"Which ones?" the man inquired. 19Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" 20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" 26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

The apostles very well may not have understood this statement.  However, we indeed know that what Jesus said here is the Truth.  Man cannot save himself, but because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, man has the opportunity to obey the Gospel and be saved.

Remember Ananias and Sapphira?

Acts 5:1-10
Ananias and Sapphira
"1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. 3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." 5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes, " she said, "that is the price." 9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." 10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died."

In the OLD Testament, God said to the Israelites:

Malachi 3:7-8
"7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?' 8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me."

We might ask ourselves what is acceptable giving and go to the OLD Testament to see how they gave. Although we are under the Law of Christ today and not the Law of Moses, the Word of God tells us that the Old Testament was given to us as an example.  (1 Cor. 10:6, 1 Cor. 10:11)

1 Corinthians 10:6
"6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did."

1 Corinthians 10:11
"11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come."

In teaching World Bible School on the Internet, I have come to believe that understanding the difference between [the Law of Moses (Old Law) and the Law of Christ (New Law) - refer to http://www.waybcoc.org/TEACH/two_laws.htm for better understanding] is extremely important. The fact that most people do not understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses and that we are now living under the Perfect Law of Christ, I believe, is a main reason that so many different denominations exist today.  The Old Law is no longer binding on us since Jesus fulfilled it.

http://www.bible.ca/ntx-giving-money.htm

What is acceptable giving? Besides the half shekel, which every male was to give, the Law of Moses required every one to give a tenth of his TOTAL income and that was off the top, the first fruits. There were no exemptions or deductions. In addition were the numerous sacrifices (or offerings) and the gifts to the poor. I checked a number of references and the tithes and offerings that the Israelites were required to pay were numerous. This increased when they came under Roman rule and were required to pay the 10% tax to the Romans on top of everything else.

Under the New Covenant, the Perfect Law of Christ, we are not required to tithe, but to freely give. The Lord mentions no specific amount, which we are to give. Instead, from the moment we become Christians, we ourselves belong completely to the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Apostle Paul says, "19Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body". And Peter in his first letter, Chapter 1, verse 18-19, says: "18You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, 19But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot."

This means that as Christians we belong completely to the Lord our bodies and minds, our abilities, and whatever comes into our possession. In Acts 4:32, it is said of the Christians at Pentecost that "Not one of them said that the things which he possessed was his own", but many sold their possessions to supply the needs of others. Since our bodies, minds, abilities, and possessions are actually all gifts from God, we are in reality stewards of His bounty.  We should want to use what He gives to us as He directs in His Holy Inspired Word.

The way we give is an indication of our love for God. God tells us in His Word that all things belong to Him.

We read in Psalms 50:10, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills."

We are dependent upon God for everything.  All gifts come from Him.

John 3:27 says, 27John answered, "A man can receive nothing [he can claim nothing, he can take unto himself nothing] except as it has been granted to him from heaven. [A man must be content to receive the gift which is given him from heaven; there is no other source.]"

We can never out-give God.

In Luke 6:38 AMP we read, "Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you."

A man should give in proportion to what he has, and also as he plans, or purposes, in his heart. In Chapter 8, verse 12, of his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle says that their giving "is acceptable and welcomed in proportion to what a person has, not according to what he does not have", and in Chapter 9, verse 7, that each man should "do according as he hath purposed in his heart". Giving as a man "hath", means in proportion to his income. In the parable of the talents, the two-talent man is not expected to accomplish as much as the five-talent. It is perfectly acceptable also to give in unexpected emergencies or on sudden impulse, as the Samaritan helped the man by the wayside, but the Lord also wantsus to plan, or purpose in our hearts, our regular giving in proportion to the measure with which we ourselves have been blessed.

It is evident today as in the day of the Poor Widow that a part of what He gives us must be used for our living expenses. Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-32, that the Lord knows we have need of food, clothing, and other necessities of life.

In 1 Timothy 5:8, the Apostle Paul says, "8If anyone fails to provide for his relatives, and especially for those of his own family, he has disowned the faith [by failing to accompany it with fruits] and is worse than an unbeliever [who performs his obligation in these matters]."

Apart from our necessary living expenses is that portion of God's gifts, which should be invested in the advancement of His kingdom. A part of this must support the work and service of each local congregation.

Galatians 6 (AMP)
"6Let him who receives instruction in the Word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support]."

1 Corinthians 9:9-10, 14
"9For in the Law of Moses it is written, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the corn. Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? 10Or does He speak certainly and entirely for our sakes? 14[On the same principle] the Lord directed that those who publish the good news (the Gospel) should live (get their maintenance) by the Gospel."

We give so the Lord's church can better carry out its mission here on earth. The world must be evangelized, and the church must be edified, and the needy, such as the Poor Widow, must be helped.

Giving is a command of God:

In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 AMP we read, "1NOW CONCERNING the money contributed for [the relief of] the saints (God's people): you are to do the same as I directed the churches of Galatia to do. 2On the first [day] of each week, let each one of you [personally] put aside something and save it up as he has prospered [in proportion to what he is given], so that no collections will need to be taken after I come." We see the giving here was to help the poor saints in Jerusalem. Notice also they were to make a regular collection every first day of the week."

Because of everything God has given us, including most importantly, His Son to die for us, we should be anxious to give back to Him.

In 2 Corinthians 8:12 AMP we read, "12For if the [eager] readiness to give is there, then it is acceptable and welcomed in proportion to what a person has, not according to what he does not have family." God expects us to give what we are able to give NOT ABOVE AND BEYOND WHAT WE HAVE.  How can our love for God be real unless it is expressed in our obedience and our giving?  Our giving is an expression of love, and act of praise, and sacrifice to God."

How we give is an indication of where our priorities are.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-21 AMP, "19Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. 20But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Since we can't out-give God, we should at least be liberal in our giving.

As we read in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 AMP "6[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and blessings.  7Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, "prompt to do it") giver [whose heart is in his giving]."

Our giving is to be planned. We should not give because we feel we have to give. Nor should we resent that we need to give to please God. We should be glad that we can give to the Lord.

We should never try to impress other people with our giving. If we do we already have our reward. Giving needs to be a private matter. We should not seek recognition for the things we do.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:1-4 AMP, "1TAKE CARE not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward [reserved for and awaiting you] with and from your Father Who is in heaven. 2Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. 3But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly."

We should seek the approval of God and not the glory of men.

Our giving should not only include material possessions but we must first give ourselves to God.

We are told in Romans 12:1, "1I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship." If we will first give ourselves to the Lord, we will have no problem in being liberal in our monetary giving. Our liberal giving is part of worshipping God "in spirit and in truth."

We may conclude that in proportion to all that we have received, the fullest portion of our time, attention, love and possessions which we can purpose in our hearts to give with cheerfulness is acceptable giving.  That may be small at first, but as our love and devotion to God increases, so will our giving. 

The man or woman who deeply desires to please the Lord will evidence this true spirituality by sacrificial giving, for their attitude will be the same as David's, when he says in:

2 Sam. 24:24, "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

In Matthew 10:8, Jesus says to his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give."

In all his encouragement to giving, Jesus is speaking not merely of money, which, though important, is probably the least fruitful gift we can make. When we visit the fatherless and widows, as James urges, or minister to the strangers, the sick, and to those in prison, as Jesus urges, time, sympathy, understanding, and love may be even more helpful than money. Especially when we take time to share with others the Truths we have learned, teach them the Gospel, such giving is far more important than money.

Jesus gave us His life for us and He expects our life in return. We are to present ourselves as a "living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). The greatest and most important of all the commandments is to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, thy soul, and thy mind" (Matthew 22:36-37). It is important to understand that even good moral people will be lost if they love God second or third or fourth rather than giving him first place (Matt. 19:16-22; Luke 9:59-62). When people who call themselves Christians live lives that lead others to despise the Truth -> they stand in the same condemnation as the Pharisees who did not enter the Kingdom themselves nor allow others to do so.

Many perform works and deeds who are not part of the body of Christ because they do not obey the Word of God.

Acts 2 AMP
"38And Peter answered them,Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

1 Peter 3:21 AMP
"21And baptism...does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Ezekiel 18:20 AMP
"20The soul that sins, it [is the one that] shall die. The son shall not bear and be punished for the iniquity of the father."

On Judgment Day, Jesus will say to many who call Him LORD, LORD and THINK they know Him, depart from me, I never knew you.

I will leave you with this thought concerning the lesson Jesus gave us through the Poor Widow.

When the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by the devil, Satan quoted Scripture, to Jesus which He did not deny, but instead quoted other Scripture which modified the Scripture which that Satan quoted to Him.

Luke 4 AMP 1,2-9,13
"1THEN JESUS, full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led in [by] the [Holy] Spirit. 2For (during) forty days in the wilderness (desert), where He was tempted (tried, tested exceedingly) by the devil. 9Then he took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on a gable of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down from here; 10For it is written, He will give His angels charge over you to guard and watch over you closely and carefully; 11And on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 12And Jesus replied to him, [The Scripture] says, You shall not tempt (try, test exceedingly) the Lord your God."

Since some Scriptures modify other Scriptures to tell the whole story.

In 1 Timothy 6:7 AMP we read,"7For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world."

Nevertheless, when we obey God, becoming His children through baptism and remain faithful throughout our lives, Revelation 14:12-13 tells us that our good works for the Lord follow us when we leave this world to spend eternity with Him.

Revelation 14:12-13 AMP
"12Here [comes in a call for] the steadfastness of the saints [the patience, the endurance of the people of God], those who [habitually] keep God's commandments and [their] faith in Jesus. 13Then I heard further [perceiving the distinct words of] a voice from heaven, saying, Write this: Blessed (happy, to be envied) are the dead from now on who die in the Lord! Yes, blessed (happy, to be envied indeed), says the Spirit, [in] that they may rest from their labors, for their works (deeds) do follow (attend, accompany) them!"

Let us all take the example of the Poor Widow and give our lives, not partially to God, but sacrificially to Him that we may serve Him fully through good deeds both monetarily and otherwise.  Christ gave His Life for us, let us give our lives to Him. He says to us in Matt. 11:29-30,

Matthew 11
"29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

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