Extravagant Giving

Readings for November 11, 2018

1 Kings 17:10-16
Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44


My faith calls me to an extravagant generosity, giving everything that I have right down to my last crust of bread and two copper coins. Today’s readings all illustrate how the gifts given from my poverty are exponentially returned to me in the sacrifice of Jesus, and each demonstrate how I am called to live the words of Psalm 146.

In 1 Kings 17:10-16 Elijah meets a widow and asks her for a crust of bread and small cake. She responds by saying, “I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.” Yet even after explaining her plight, the widow still listens and obeys, seeing Elijah, a stranger, as a man of God. In obeying what God requested through Elijah, she was able to feed herself, her son, and Elijah for a year. This is the perfect evidence of the promise made in Psalm 146, “The Lord gives food to the hungry. The Lord protects strangers. The fatherless and the widow He sustains.”

Then, in St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he talks of Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophets and the final, pure sacrifice as expiation for our sins. “Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” This passage affirms what is written in Psalm 146, that “The Lord shall reign forever; through all generations.”

And finally, in Mark’s gospel passage (paralleled in Luke 20 and 21) Jesus warns, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and have salutations in the marketplaces … who devour widows’ houses … They will receive the greater condemnation.” He then raises up the generosity of the poor widow at the temple treasury. “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury … she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, her whole living.” Jesus points to a striking contrast between those who use their faith to extol themselves versus those who use their faith to give glory and thanksgiving to God. Similarly, Psalm 146 tells how “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down … the ways of the wicked He thwarts.”

Sometimes I struggle to live out my faith, not understanding what God wants or how I am supposed to live. In reading the instructions of Paul, the praise to God in the Psalm and the stories of Elijah and the poor widow at the temple treasury, it dawns on me that what I claim not to understand might be understood, but resisted. Am I willing to “put in everything”? Do I have the extravagance to give with such incredible generosity? If, as I pray from Proverbs 3 each morning, I “trust in the Lord with all my heart,” and if I believe as I profess that God has already given to me in extravagant generosity, then the answer needs to be an unequivocal “yes.”

My Lord, guide me in Your unending mercy that I may trust in You with all my heart, not depending on my own understanding, but giving all that I have in extravagant generosity. I ask this in Your name, through the salvation of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen


*And Happy Birthday MYHM!*

2 thoughts on “Extravagant Giving

    1. And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
      REV 4:9-11


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