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THE WIDOW'S MITES
We are informed ... so goes the stately announcement of some news received by a king or a country or a firm.
21 Points and Principles from the Widow
WITH THE LORD THE LEAST CAN COUNT
THE DELIGHTFUL PRECISION OF COMMUNICATION
But of what are they informed ? To be informed, something has to be formulated, given form, perhaps though small, given a thousand and one items in sequences and grasps of mental grapplings, such as the use of symbols, invented by mind to stand for something that may be not in the last like them, arranged in words, which mean nothing at all except it be assigned mentally, put in sentences, which carry messages meaningless altogether unless interpreted by mind, or its programmatic slaves; and these must be sent off to a receptor with the same or allied capacities, all according to rules, grammatical, syntactical, semantic, and intimations such as go with the words and the ostensible meaning, such as word play, irony and the like, essential for a personal receptor.
We saw in the last Chapter that God has given us information, and indeed much before that! It has much that is ironical, some things worked out for word play, some things of imagery, or of literary devices, but beyond that, there is the meaning for man, the target of the communication, with its information, formulation and function as intended. To be informed, you need two things: to be informable and to have someone to play, to send what is informative according to mental systematics. With man, there are higher and higher realms for information, including understanding of why, where, how and for what man has come on the earth, and the instruction from the Maker, as Lord, and man being what he is, as Saviour.
Some divinely formulated information is vast in connotation, some in significance; and some things are very significant, though with that power to characterise that personal beings such as man, have, they may be sourced in the tiniest of items materially, socially or in time to happen.
One of these consisted of one nexus: a widow, her two tiny coins, the eye of God, the evaluation of God, the meaning assigned to this action by God, and principles concerning what man may conceive, and what God judges of the same event, or person.
THE PARTICULAR PERCEPTION IN THIS CASE
There are 21 sightings to be derived rather readily from this case of the widow's mites as found in Mark 12:41-43.
1. You might have imagined or heard of the story in terms of the widow's mite, that she freely gave to the treasury of the temple. In fact, there were two mites. Since she gave all, there may well have been two distinct acts of generosity and devotion, each hurting perhaps rather as 50 million might matter to the owner of 100 million, in each departure!
2. It is said that the pen is mightier than the sword; but the heart may induce wonder.
3. Though poor, through the word of God, the assessment of Jesus Christ concerning her action, she has enriched the hearts of many. In her small but vital manner, she reminds one of II Corinthians 8:9, spoken of the coming of Christ, who was not poor, but for a purpose in hand, MADE HIMSELF poor:
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor,
that you through His poverty might become rich."
4. He gave His life, she her mites. He did not say, nor evidently she, I MIGHT GIVE IT. Concerning Christ, truly, if it were possible to do what He desired effectively otherwise, it would be eminently desirable not to do it in the way laid down; but this not being so, He freely and willingly gave what was needed (Luke 22:42), and in Spirit after the battle, did this freely and profoundly (in view of the souls so gained from what literally is a fate worse than death, for a life that is a work of wonder). So from His eternal counsel before time, He came in the body prepared (as in Psalm 40:6-8). It was predicted, written, and before the time came, long before. In the scroll of the book it was all secured that thus He should come and so act; and so He did, delighting to do the will of His Father, as Messiah to be, when He should come from eternity to the world of sinful man, to constitute in Himself and by His works, a ransom for many (Matthew 26:28, 20:28).
There was neither procrastination (as in Christ, the Citadel Ch. 2), the death date being proclaimed to man centuries before, nor prevarication, as if He did not know, for the worst of it was already consigned to communication to man as in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 50-53. The matter was searched and from the unsearchable riches of Christ's own character, it was sent, with Himself the executor (Ephesians 3:8).
That was a parallel for the widow, in terms of the
glory of God direct.
Now we note again of the wisdom of God, that she gave it inconspicuously, but not inconsequentially. Why ? It was because it was noticed, it was seen by the Lord.
6. The widow gave it as insignificant to the treasury, but the event is treasured to this day, and one might say in its own way, sensational!
7. There was no financial might in the widow's mite, but it signified a soul unified (cf. Psalm 86:11), hearty, and superabundant in bounty.
8. Though its means were slight, its meaning was powerful.
9. Though it could be conceived with contempt, its meaning was at the height of praise (Christ praised it in striking terms). She had given more than all of them.
10. Though this world, after the style of Nietzsche, could regard it as an appalling display of weakness, it became a most notable display of meekness, a solid dose of which, were it possible, would doubtless avoid the murder of millions, and enhance the joy of life for millions more, in the milling mentalities of pride amid man.
11. It shows that what in apparent properties is next to nothing, both shallow and superficial, may broadcast the deepest meaning; and even if the communication lines fail, yet God knows it as of His own.
12. Just as the pen is reputed to be mightier than the sword (for the latter can swing, but the former can bring for generations and inspire for millenia), the heart is deeper than any pocket.
13. It shows that in spiritual things, quantity bows to quality; for the almost immeasurably small may dwarf the contributions of the mighty.
14. It shows that more, in spiritual terms, may be less; for Christ said of her gift, that it was more than all, including the most, the most significant, the most crassly gratifying, both enabling and touted socially, if known. So in this, insignificance surpasses sign-writing exultation, and that beneath notice, is notable.
15. For all her gift's littleness, it was mighty as an example, for generations, inscribed in the Bible amid wonderful and mighty works of the Lord: humble in kind, it seems wonderful in kindness.
16. It speaks distinctively concerning the heart that has moved from the Lord, despite all its pretensions.
17. It is a monetary token of a surrender of life, such as is necessary for a walk with the Lord, whether or not one contributes this or that, here or there (Luke 14:27ff.). The WHOLE LIFE has to be contributed to the Lord, as was His own to His Messianic work (Matthew 20:28).
18. It shows how what is unnoticed by man, can become conspicuous to the Lord (like the cry of Elijah, in tempestuous circumstances, under the juniper tree), and how sincerity can surpass splendour, and the attitude of heart, in the mind of God, the works of the mighty. Let us extend this, though it is a separate point. It even became a model for the private and personal instruction of apostles to be, by the Lord Himself! He CALLED them to Himself privately, in order to tell them about it (Mark 12:41-43).
19. With a coin, or a couple of them making one single value, it attested a quality, and with that a commitment that quailed at nothing.
PRESSING PRINCIPLES FOR REVISION OF REWARD
and PROVISION OF PERSPECTIVE
20. It shows that things no one may examine, can surpass emulous competitiveness as likewise cause for human applause, reminding us, in its direction, of the important spiritual principle from the mouth of the Lord, that "what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God," (Luke 16:15).
21. It gives spur to the reflection that "the last shall be first, and many that are last shall be first," as in Matthew 19:30.
In view of all these things, we learn much of sanctification, of the work of the Holy Spirit in applying cleansing, enabling and blessing the saints of God, the children of such a Father as this, the redeemed of such a Saviour. However, lest any be confused, the underlying reality requires perspective. It was a TEMPLE matter, and this symbolised salvation underlying, foundational as in Hebrews 8-10. To be sure, hypocrites might flash their monies, being puppets of personal self-elevation processes, but here in the widow was sincerity, and in sincerity there is faith (Deuteronomy 29:18-22), without which you cannot please God (Hebrews 11), and in faith is content and in content is salvation, in which appears God's righteousness and His alone (Psalm 71:15-16), as Job was so emphatically shown (Job 19:23-26).
When you stand on a rock, you go about your business, and the rock standing, you stand with it (Psalm 62:1-7).
Thus the Spirit of God sanctifies, and the Son of God saves, for there is no other name given under heaven to men, by which they must be saved (Acts 4:12). There is the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 9:12ff.).
There is redemption. But there is renewing, as the Spirit applies these wonders, and it continues reinforcement (Ephesians 3:16), and just as it worked the impact of pardon in the person through regeneration. It is the Trinity who works, as on the work of Christ the payment rests, that of the Holy Spirit it is applied, while it is through the Father that the Son is sent; but while each has special investment in the process, they are ONE, and as in John 5:19,25-26, 16:15, and 16:8-14, their work is one of splendour, diversified in function, integral in coverage. Ordinally, it involves "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of of the truth," (II Thessalonians 2:13), those whom God has foreknown as His own, elect both sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Spirit (I Peter 1:2).
The widow therefore, all things resting always on one foundation, is showing the results of sanctification, the zeal of salvation and the leading of the Lord in her in a special way, a testimony to the transforming reality wrought through faith in the Lord, who was watching her as she so abounded, like a coach watching a ski-run, the presence in the first place being paid for by the sending organisation, the coach through its graces, the performance gratifying to all. Not by works of righteousness that we have done, however, is this propelled into sight, but by the mercy that chose (Titus 3:5).
And on what basis was a person chosen ? It was because in the foreknowledge of God, who would have all reconciled to Himself, whether in heaven or on earth, by the blood (Colossians 1:19), the sacrificial and atoning death of Christ, sent forth in love, His redemption was not dismissed. In His divine love, it is applicable to all who over all time and from before time are seen to accept His pardon, received by many (Matthew 20:28). Seen and known before sin entered, some did not prefer darkness to light, thus satisfying the extensive, expansive and all-seeking heart of God, whether their faith in the word and work of God preceded in history the payment, or succeeded it. Time has no troubles for God. It is just one of His creations, who sees both beyond and through it; for His understanding is infinite (Psalm 145:3, 147:5).
It is great to see performance; but it is the performance of Christ alone which saves (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:1-8, Romans 3:23-27), and this is the badge of recognition whether of old or new, through the sufficiency of the salvation of Christ, the apex and culmination of symbolic attestation and prediction, and the payor of the price (Isaiah 53:6), applied to those who, by His stripes, are healed (Isaiah 53:3-6).