Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Growing up with a father who served proudly in World War 2, we viewed all things military with great respect and honor. And one of the ways we showed this was to watch “The Big Picture” on television. It took actual military footage and told a story of life in the armed forces, weapons, bravery, and battle action. We watched in breathless amazement.
But then this phrase was taken over by business leaders.
I can’t tell you how many meetings and phone calls I’ve been a part of where the leader asked, no demanded, that they be told the essence of why we were together. Then they ask for all the evidence, information, data, observations, analysis, and conclusions to be given.
But not just given, but to be reduced, synthesized, boiled down, summarized. They weren’t interested in the details. They weren’t interested in the individual results or the individual people behind the information.
No, they only wanted “the big picture.”
But when it comes to life and people, Jesus isn’t just interested in the big picture, he’s also very interested in the personal picture. He’s interested in the person behind every statistic. The individuals involved in megatrends. The ones that make up the many.
So, here we find Jesus sitting down and personally watching who and how people give their money to God. He’s more than just watching their actions, he’s sensing and watching the attitudes behind their actions.
He sees the rich giving lots of money. And there’s no problem with the amount. But there can be something about the how and why.
When it came to the rich making their contribution, it’s not about the amount. It’s not like they privately dropped in a blank envelope containing a check into a plate or basket as it was passed down the row. It’s not like they privately and securely got on an app and made their contribution behind a firewall.
No, they get up in front of a crowd for everyone to see. They not only had to drag up their gift, but they had to put metal coins into a small opening. And like all metal coins, after they fell, they came to a screeching halt with an accompanying clink. The more they gave, longer it took for all to see. The longer it took, the more clinking for all to hear.
It’s like the psychiatrist scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas. After Lucy demands payment in advance, Charlie Brown drops his coin in her tin can. The resulting clink excites her. She goes on and on, not about the sound of music, but the sound of money.
It’s not about the large sum, but their large head. Their large ego. They think that they have so much because they are so good. Riches are God’s confirmation. His checkmark. His stamp of approval. His OK on them and their lives.
We used to go to a church that had more brass commemorative plaques than Walmart has LifeSaver® candies. For just about any amount, for anything, you could have your name, your family name, your dog’s name inscribed on a brass plaque and put on permanent display for all to see.
To quote Jesus, “they have their reward in full.”
When it comes to our giving money, our time, our acts of kindness, our obedience to God, who’s watching? Do we look around to see who notices, and whether they are people of significance and power?
Or are we content that only God sees?
The only eyes in the whole universe that matter are God’s. He alone sees everything. Knows everything. He more than knows our actions, he knows our attitudes.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
God is watching. What does God see when he sees us? Our words, thoughts, actions, attitudes?