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From Heaven With Love

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    The Priceless Gift of the Poor Widow

    Christ unsparingly condemned abuses, but He was careful not to lessen obligation. Man's abuse of the gift could not turn God's blessing from the giver.HLv 410.4

    Jesus was in the court and watched those who came to deposit their gifts. Many of the rich brought large sums with great ostentation. Jesus looked upon them sadly, but made no comment on their liberal offerings. Presently His countenance lighted as He saw a poor widow approach hesitatingly, as though fearful of being observed. She looked at the gift in her hand. It was very small in comparison with the gifts of those around her, yet it was her all. She hurriedly threw in her two mites (“copper coins,” RSV) and turned to hasten away. But in doing this she caught the eye of Jesus fastened earnestly upon her.HLv 410.5

    The Saviour bade His disciples mark the widow's poverty. Then His words of commendation fell on her ear: “Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all.” Tears of joy filled her eyes as she felt that her act was appreciated. Many would have advised her to keep her pittance for her own use; it would be lost sight of among the many costly gifts brought to the treasury. But she believed the service of the temple to be of God's appointment, and she was anxious to do her utmost to sustain it. She did what she could, and her act was to be a monument to her memory through all time, and her joy in eternity.HLv 411.1

    She “hath cast in more than they all.” The large donations of the rich had required no sacrifice, and could not be compared in value with the widow's mite.HLv 411.2

    Motive gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth. Little duties cheerfully done, little gifts which make no show, often stand highest in God's sight. The poor widow deprived herself of food in order to give those two mites to the cause she loved. And she did it in faith, believing that her heavenly Father would not overlook her need. This unselfish spirit and childlike faith won the Saviour's commendation.HLv 411.3

    Many among the poor long to show their gratitude to God for His grace and truth. Let them lay up their mites in the bank of heaven. If given from a heart filled with love for God, these seeming trifles become priceless offerings which God smiles on and blesses.HLv 411.4

    When Jesus said of the widow, She “hath cast in more than they all,” His words were true, not only of the motive, but of the results of her gift. The “two copper coins, which make a penny” (RSV) have brought to God's treasury an amount of money far greater than the contributions of those rich Jews. That little gift has been like a stream, widening and deepening through the ages. In a thousand ways it has contributed to the relief of the poor and the spread of the gospel. Her example of self-sacrifice has acted and reacted on thousands of hearts in every land and in every age. God's blessing upon the widow's mite has made it the source of great results. So with every gift bestowed with a sincere desire for God's glory. Its results for good no man can measure.HLv 411.5

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The obligation itself, Christ did not set aside. The tithing system was ordained by God, observed from earliest times. Abraham paid tithes of all that he possessed. As God gave it, the system was just and reasonable, but the priests and rabbis had made it a wearisome burden.HLv 412.1

    The Pharisees were very exact in tithing garden herbs, such as mint, anise, and rue; this cost little and gave them a reputation for exactness and sanctity. At the same time, the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and truth were neglected. “These,” Christ said, “ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”HLv 412.2

    Other laws had been perverted by the rabbis in like manner. In the directions given through Moses, the use of swine's flesh and of certain other animals was prohibited, as likely to fill the blood with impurities and to shorten life. But the Pharisees went to unwarranted extremes. The people were required to strain all the water used, lest it should contain the smallest insect, which might be classed with the unclean animals. Contrasting these trivial exactions with the magnitude of actual sins, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”HLv 412.3

    “You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.” RSV. The whited and beautifully decorated tomb concealed the putrefying remains within. So the outward holiness of the priests and rulers concealed iniquity.HLv 413.1

    Jesus continued: “You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” RSV.HLv 413.2

    A superstitious regard was cherished for the resting places of the dead, and vast sums of money were lavished on their decoration. In the sight of God this was idolatry. It showed that they did not love God supremely, nor their neighbor as themselves. Today many neglect the widow and the fatherless, the sick and the poor, in order to build expensive monuments for the dead. Duties to the living—duties which Christ has plainly enjoined—are left undone.HLv 413.3

    The Pharisees said one to another, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have united with them in shedding the blood of God's servants. At the same time they were planning to take the life of His Son. This should open our eyes to the power of Satan to deceive the mind that turns from the light of truth. Many wonder at the blindness of the Jews in rejecting Christ. Had we lived in His day, they declare, we would never have been partakers in the guilt of those who rejected the Saviour. But when obedience to God requires self-denial and humiliation, these very persons refuse obedience. They manifest the same spirit as did the Pharisees.HLv 413.4

    Little did the Jews realize the terrible responsibility involved in rejecting Christ. In every age prophets had lifted up their voices against the sins of kings, rulers, and people, obeying God's will at the peril of their lives. There had been heaping up a terrible punishment for the rejecters of light and truth. By their rejection of the Saviour, the priests and rulers were making themselves responsible for the blood of all the righteous slain from Abel to Christ. They were about to fill to overflowing their cup of iniquity. And soon it was to be poured on their heads in retributive justice. Of this, Jesus warned them:HLv 413.5

    “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”HLv 414.1

    The scribes and Pharisees knew how the prophet Zacharias had been slain. While words of warning from God were on his lips, a satanic fury seized the apostate king, and at his command the prophet was put to death. See 2 Chronicles 24:18-22. His blood had imprinted itself on the very stones of the temple court, and remained to bear testimony against apostate Israel. As long as the temple should stand, there would be the stain of that righteous blood, crying to God to be avenged. As Jesus referred to these fearful sins, a thrill of horror ran through the multitude.HLv 414.2

    Looking forward, Jesus declared that the impenitence of the Jews would be the same in the future as it had been in the past:HLv 414.3

    “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.” With hand uplifted to heaven and a divine light enshrouding His person, Christ spoke as a judge, in rebuke and condemnation. The listeners shuddered. Never was the impression made by His words and His look to be effaced.HLv 414.4

    Christ's indignation was directed against the gross sins by which men were destroying their own souls, deceiving the people, and dishonoring God. But He spoke no words of retaliation. He manifested no irritated temper. Divine pity marked the countenance of the Son of God as He cast one lingering look on the temple and then on His hearers. In a voice choked by anguish and bitter tears He exclaimed, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” In the lamentation of Christ the very heart of God poured forth. It was the mysterious farewell of the long-suffering love of the Deity.HLv 414.5

    Pharisees and Sadducees were alike silenced. Jesus summoned His disciples and prepared to leave the temple, not as one defeated, but as one whose work was accomplished. He retired a victor from the contest.HLv 415.1

    On that eventful day, in many hearts new thoughts started into life, and a new history began. After the crucifixion and resurrection, these persons came to the front with wisdom and zeal. They bore a message that appealed to hearts. Before their testimony human theories and philosophies became as idle fables.HLv 415.2

    But Israel as a nation had divorced herself from God. Looking for the last time on the interior of the temple, Jesus said with mournful pathos, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” As the Son of God should pass out from those walls, God's presence would be withdrawn forever from the temple built to His glory. Its ceremonies would be meaningless, its services a mockery.HLv 415.3

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