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What are 5 great sermon illustrations of giving?  What ones might you include from the Scriptures?

The Widows Mite

Jesus and the disciples were observing those who were giving at the temple and Jesus noticed something in particular and related this to the disciples.  The account is given in Mark 12:41-44:

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

This widow had just given all that she had and so proportionally, she gave more than them all. So if we have little to give and give sacrificially, we have given more than those who can give thousands of dollars if we are able to only give little.  The rich loved to be observed when putting their large sums of money in but the widow wasn’t concerned with who was watching … she simply gave everything that she had.

This really is an indictment against the religious leaders because their laws, specifically the Mosaic Law, commanded them to be sure to take care of the widows and obviously (because all she had were two small coins) they weren’t doing that.  A widow was in even worse circumstances than others because as a widow, she had no means of survival since her husband had died.  The rich religious leaders apparently weren’t doing their jobs because this widow should have had more than two small copper coins.  So this account is both an indictment against the rich who failed to take care of this Jewish (and others too?) widow but it also showed that even though the rich gave large sums of money, it was all for show, so that others could see just how pious they were by giving large sums of money.

The Foolish Steward

God has given to each of us certain talents such as abilities, skills, gifts and money so when Jesus told the Parable of the Talents, He wanted his listeners to understand that they are stewards of all that God has given them and they (and we) will have to give an account someday as they stand before God.  In the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25) one man was given five talents while another was given two and the last one was given one.  Both of the previous men doubled their talents so they acted wisely with what they had been given but the last man with the one talent simply buried it which means that he was too lazy or selfish to even use it.  When the master returned to settle with his servants, he was pleased with the two but was angry with the last one for he didn’t use what had been given to him and the master replied “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matt 25:26-29).  The point is we must use what God has given us.  He will hold us accountable.  The master then said “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:30).

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Jesus was telling another parable about a man who had acquired so much wealth in the form of produce that his barns couldn’t hold it all so instead of sharing what he had with the poor, and there are always enough poor to help (Matt 26:11), he tore down the smaller ones in order to build bigger barns.  He felt that he had it made so he said to himself, “you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” but little did he know that “God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be” (Luke 12:19-20)?  Jesus said that is the same fate for all “who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).  Today, the average American has in storage about 10 by 18 square footage worth of things that they don’t use on a regular basis or else they wouldn’t be storing it all.  There’s nothing wrong with storing things but why store things that we rarely use?  Why not instead share it with those who have less?  What good will these things do on the day of our death?

Getting an Increase by Giving it Away

There is no small irony in the fact that the more you give the more God gives back to you.  God declares through Malachi, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (3:10).  When we withhold our money from the work of the Lord, He withholds his blessings from us and it’s the same as robbing God when we don’t give (Mal 3:8-12).  Jesus said that we ought to “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).  No one can out give God but every one of us can rob God.  I would not want to be in the position of robbing God, do you?

Where is Your Treasure?

Bible teacher and author Chip Ingram once said that if you want to know where someone’s heart is at, look at their checkbook ledger or credit card statement.  We value or esteem those things above all other things on which we spend the most money and this is basically what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That’s why we should “not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:19-20).  You can lay up treasures on earth but they’ll do you no good in heaven or you can lay up treasures in heaven and they’ll be there waiting for you in the form or rewards.  You can’t take it with you but you can send it ahead.


In reality, the poor widow out gave them all because she gave all that she had and gave out of her poverty. God doesn’t care how much we give … He cares how much it was in proportion to what we have.  It’s not the amount but the amount of personal sacrifice.  Remember Jesus’ rebuke of the rich religious leaders and the commendation of the poor widow?  The rich will be held to a higher standard because they have been given much but statistics show that the rich give much less proportionally than do the poor.  And Jesus said that some of the religious leaders were devouring the widows’ houses, therefore “they will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:40).

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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