Chapter 1 – Christ’s Estimate of Money

“Jesus watched how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And a certain poor widow came, and cast in a farthing. Jesus called His disciples, and said to them, ‘This poor widow has cast more in than all the others: for all they cast in out of their abundance; but she in her lack cast in all that she had, even all her living.’” Mark 12: 41.

In all our religion and our Bible study, it is of the greatest consequence to find out what the mind of Christ is, to think as He thought, and to feel just as He felt. There is not a question that concerns us, not a single matter that ever comes before us, but we find in the words of Christ something for our guidance and help. We want today to get at the mind of Christ about money; to know exactly what he thought, and then to think and act just as He would do. This is not an easy thing. We are so under the influence of the world around us, that the fear of becoming utterly unpractical if we thought and acted just like Christ easily comes upon us. Let us not be afraid; if we really desire to find out what is His mind, He will guide us to what He wants us to think and do.

Only be honest in the thought: I want to have Christ teach me how to possess and how to use my money.

Look at Him for a moment sitting here over against the treasury, watching the people putting in their gifts. Thinking about money in the church, looking after the collection: we often connect that with Judas, or some hard-worked deacon, or the treasurer or collector of some society. But see here — Jesus sits and watches the collection. And as He does it, He weighs each gift in the balance of God, and puts its value on it. In heaven He does this still. Not a gift for any part of God’s work, great or small, but He notices it, and puts its value on it for the blessing, if any, that it is to bring in time or eternity. And He is willing, even here on earth in the waiting heart, to let us know what He thinks of our giving. Giving money, is a part of our religious life, is watched over by Christ, and must be regulated by His word. Let us try and discover what the scriptures have to teach us.

1. Money giving a sure test of character.

In the world money is the standard of value. It is difficult to express all that money means. It is the symbol of labor and enterprise and cleverness. It is often the token of God’s blessing on diligent effort. It is the equivalent of all that it can procure of the service of mind or body, of property or comfort or luxury, of influence and power. No wonder that the world loves it, seeks it above everything, and often worships it. No wonder that it is the standard of value not only for material things, but for man himself, and that a man is too often valued according to his money.

It is, however, not only thus in the kingdom of this world, but in the kingdom of heaven too, that a man is judged by his money, and yet on a different principle. The world asks, what does a man own? Christ, how does he use it? The world thinks more about the money getting; Christ about the money giving. And when a man gives, the world still asks, what does he give? Christ asks, how does he give? The world looks at the money and its amount, Christ at the man and his motive. See this in the story of the poor widow. Many that were rich cast in much; but it was out of their abundance; there was no real sacrifice in it; their life was as full and comfortable as ever, it cost them nothing. There was no special love or devotion to God in it; part of an easy and traditional religion. The widow cast in a farthing. Out of her want she cast in all that she had, even all her living. She gave all to God without reserve, without holding back anything, she gave all.

How different our standard and Christ’s. We ask how much a man gives. Christ asks, how much he keeps. We look at the gift. Christ asks whether the gift was a sacrifice.

The widow kept nothing over, she gave all; the gift won His heart and approval, for it was in the spirit of His own self-sacrifice, who, being rich, became poor for our own sakes. They — out of their abundance — cast in much: She, out of her want — all that she had.

But if our Lord wanted us to do as she did, why did He not leave a clear command about it? How gladly we then would do it. Ah! there you have it. You want a command to make you do it: that would just be the spirit of the world in the church looking at what we give, at our giving all. And that is just what Christ does not wish and will not have. He wants the generous love that does it unbidden. He wants every gift to be a gift warm and bright with love, a true free will offering. If you want the Master’s approval as the poor widow had it, remember one thing: You must put all at his feet, hold all at his disposal.

And that, as the spontaneous expression of a love that, like Mary, cannot help giving, just because it loves.

All my money giving — what a test of character! Lord Jesus! Oh give me grace to love Thee intently, that I may know how to give.

2. Money giving a great means of grace.

Christ called His disciples to come and listen while He talked to them about the giving He saw there. It was to guide their giving and ours. Our giving, if we listen to Christ with the real desire to learn, will have more influence on our growth in grace than we know.

The spirit of the world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.” Money is the great means the world has for gratifying its desires. Christ has said of His people, “they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” They are to show in their disposal of money that they act on unworldly principle, that the spirit of heaven teaches them how to use it. And what does that spirit suggest?

Use it for spiritual purposes, for what will last for eternity, for what is pleasing to God. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and its lusts.” One of the ways of manifesting and maintaining the crucifixion of the flesh is never to use money to gratify it. And the way to conquer every temptation to do so, is to have the heart filled with large thoughts of the spiritual power of money. Would you learn to keep the flesh crucified — refuse to spend a penny on its gratification. As much as money spent on self, may nourish and strengthen and comfort self, money sacrificed to God may help the soul in the victory that overcomes the world and the flesh.

Our whole life of faith may be strengthened by the way we deal with money. Many men have to be engaged continually in making money — by nature the heart is dragged down and bound to earth in dealing with what is the very life of the world. It is faith that can give a continual victory over this temptation. Every thought of the danger of money, every effort to resist it, every loving gift to God, helps our life of faith.

We look at things in the very light of God. We judge of them as out of eternity, and the money passing through our hands and devoted to God may be a daily education in faith and heavenly-mindedness.

Very specially may our money-giving strengthen our life of love. Every grace needs to be exercised if it is to grow; most of all is this true of love. And — did we but know it — how our money might develop and strengthen our love, as it called us to the careful and sympathizing consideration of the needs of those around us. Every call for money, and every response we give, might be the stirring of a new love, and the aid to a fuller surrender to its blessed claims.

Do believe. Money giving may be one of your choicest means of grace, a continuous fellowship with God in the renewal of your surrender of your all to Him, and in proof of the earnestness of your heart to walk before Him in self-denial, and faith and love.

3. Money-giving a wonderful power for God.

What a wonderful religion Christianity is. It takes money, the very embodiment of the power of sense of this world, with its self-interest, its covetousness, and its pride, and it changes it into an instrument for God’s service and glory.

Think of the poor. What help and happiness is brought to tens of thousands of helpless ones by the timely gift of a little money from the hand of love. God has allowed the difference of rich and poor for this very purpose — that just as in the interchange of buying and selling mutual dependence upon each other is maintained among men — so in the giving and receiving of charity there should be abundant scope for the blessedness of doing and receiving good. He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” What a God-like privilege and blessedness to have the power of relieving the needy and making glad the heart of the poor by gold or silver. What a blessed religion that makes the money we give away a source of greater pleasure than that which we spend on ourselves. The latter is mostly spent on what is temporal and carnal — that spent in the work of love has eternal value, and brings double happiness, to ourselves and others too.

Think of the church and its work in this world; of Missions at home and abroad, and the thousand agencies for winning men from sin to God and Holiness. Is it indeed true that the coin of this world, by being cast into God’s treasury in the right spirit, can receive the stamp of the mint of heaven, and be accepted in exchange for heavenly blessings? It is true. The gifts of faith and love go not only into the Church’s treasury, but into God’s own treasury, and are paid out again in heavenly goods. And that not according to the earthly standard of value, where the question always is, How much? but according to the standard of heaven, where men’s judgments of much and little, great and small, are all unknown. Christ has immortalized a poor widow’s farthing. It shines through the ages brighter with His approval than the brightest gold. It has been a blessing to tens of thousands in the lesson it has taught. It tells you that your farthing, if it be your all, that your gift, if it be honestly given as all you ought to give to the Lord at the time, has His approval, His stamp, His eternal blessing.

If we did but take more time in quiet thoughtfulness for the Holy Spirit to show us our Lord Jesus in charge of the Heavenly Mint, stamping every true gift, and then using it for the Kingdom, surely our money would begin to shine with a new luster. And we should begin to say — the less I can spend on myself, and the more on my Lord, the richer I am. And we shall see how, as the widow was richer in her gift and her grace than the many rich, so he is richest who truly gives all he can.

4. Money giving a continual help on the ladder to heaven.

You know how often our Lord Jesus spake of this in His parables. In that of the unjust steward He said, “Make friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, that they may receive you in the eternal habitations.” In the parable of the talents He said, “You ought to have put my money.” The man who had not used his talent, lost all. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, it is they who have cared for the needy and the wretched in His name, who shall hear the word — “Come, you blessed of my Father.”

We cannot purchase heaven — as little with money as with works. But in your money giving, heavenly-mindedness and love to Christ, and love to men, and devotion to God’s work, are cultivated and proved — the “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom,” will take count of the money truly spent on Christ and his work. Our money giving must prepare us for heaven.

Oh! how many there are who if heaven and holiness could be bought for a thousand pounds would give it. No money can buy it. But if they only knew, money can wondrously help on the path of holiness and heaven. Money given in the spirit of self-sacrifice, and love, and faith in Him who has paid all, brings a rich and eternal reward. Day by day give as God blesses and as He asks — it will help to bring heaven nearer to you, it will help to bring you nearer to heaven.

The Christ who sat over against the treasury is my Christ. He watches my gifts. What is given in the spirit of wholehearted devotion and love He accepts. He teaches His disciples to judge as He judges. He will teach me how to give, how much, how lovingly, how truthfully.

Money — this is what I want to learn from Him above all — money, the cause of so much temptation and sin, and sorrow and eternal loss; money, as it is received and administered and distributed at the feet of Jesus, the Lord of the Treasury, becomes one of God’s choicest channels of grace to myself and to others. In this, too, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Who gave a farthing, and gave her all. Lord! give Your Church, in her poverty, give us all the spirit of the poor widow.