And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living, Mark 12:43-44.
How can the widow's two mites be compared favorably with the great amounts thrown in by the rich which cast in much (verse 41)? What the widow did was to give her all which in another passage of the bible the rich young ruler refused to do. The lesson here is that God doesn't count the amount of money that we give as much as the percentage of what we give. God does notice. It is recorded forever that she gave all that she had.
If God has called you to give all that you have, I suggest that you do so. At least once in every life God calls for our entire lives. The Apostle Paul spoke of the churches of Macedonia; And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. It is said of Frances Ridley Havergal that when she penned the 4th verse of her famous hymn Take My Life, she rushed to her solicitor's office to dispose of her wealth before completing the hymn.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
I am not suggesting that anyone who reads this consign their lives to a life of poverty. Perhaps the Lord has imbued you with wealth, or perhaps you struggle from day to day and week to week on a meager living. Regardless of your circumstances, the Lord requires you to have a heart willing to give. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver, 2nd Corinthians 9:7.
What I desire for those people under my ministry is that they have a good conscience about their giving. Obviously, the Lord would have each person able to feed, house and clothe themselves. Obviously, the Lord understands our need for money in our own lives. Once a person has submitted his or her life to the Lord, how much should that person give? The key to that is to remember that God looks at giving in the sense of percentages, not totals.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come, 1st Corinthians 16:2. Clearly, the Apostle Paul saw the amount that each person was to lay in store as a percentage of their income. He did not set an exact amount. Neither did he specify a percentage, but clearly he saw it in terms of percentage.
When I had to consider what percentage of my income that I would automatically set aside for the work of God, I understood two things. One, I was not under the law. I could pick whatsoever percentage I chose. Two, almost every choice that I have made in life without using scripture as a guideline has turned out to be a wretched choice. If I was going to set a percentage of my gains in life aside for the work of God, why would I ignore the percentage that godly people had been giving throughout the entire bible?
I chose to tithe. I chose to give ten percent of my financial gains in life to the work of God through my local church. I chose by grace the same amount that Jacob chose and that Abraham chose when they had no restraint of law. I chose the same percentage that was later codified in law but now no longer holds the force of law. I chose the amount that God suggested, and that men far holier than me chose. I chose to tithe.
I have heard the objections. Some people have sat in legalistic churches wherein they were instructed to "pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin". They were held to a joyless legalistic system. Other people are just horses that will wear no man's bridle. They couldn't follow a rule if they wrote it themselves. They buck and whinny at anything that appears to interfere with their goofy little lives lived by the whim of the moment. Every form of giving has examples in the word of God wherein people abused them. That does not negate that form of giving.
Please do not think that giving a tithe frees you from any other giving. Giving a tithe clears your conscience on a week by week basis so that what you keep at home is not a snare to you. Nevertheless, for any special work ever done in the bible whether it be repairing the temple, building the tabernacle or relieving the poor of Judea, a special offering was taken.
During times of special offerings, each saint must weigh what he sees his or her responsibility to be. Perhaps the Lord will watch another poor person shame the rich young ruler again as that person throws in all their living. Perhaps a household will cut back on special treats and give for a special project. I pastor a church which has no professional people in it, and has no wealthy members. We have a higher percentage of poor people than most churches. Nevertheless, it is known as a church that gives and I have yet to see a waistline that hints at missing meals.
I have watched the poor struggle with the tithe. They cautiously try it and then when tested, they fail. They struggle on for a while with a bad conscience. Then they try again. The next time they are tested they pass the test. They are filled with joy and they boast on the goodness of God. At no time do I rebuke them. This is an issue between God and them. I have those who in bitterness suspect that I want them to give for mine or the church's gain.
I tell them that there is no obligation to tithe in this church. There is no obligation to give. The families that have not chosen well lag far behind in the personal blessings that I watch God bestow upon families. I'm not talking about financial gain, I am speaking of those blessings of family unity and joy that should be the heritage of every saint. Many is the time that I have urged those who refuse to set a percentage aside for God, that if they think that I do so to enrich this church, pick a charity that they believe in. Get on their knees and and promise God that they will faithfully give a tithe to that charity in his name. See if God does not begin to bless.
Please learn to give. If you don't know how, or your conscience troubles you, start with a tithe.