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Mark 12:38-44


Intro: I want to talk to you today about the issue of love. We are all familiar, to some degree, with love. Everyone in this room has loved and has been loved. Everyone here loves people and everyone here loves things. I would imagine that some even love God. While we are familiar with the concept of love, I think we might be a little confused about this matter of love.

      I believe that we can and genuinely do love God, others and things, but I think we miss a fundamental truth about our love. All of our love, as humans is fundamentally flawed. That is, our sin natures cause our love to be far less than it could and should be. When you get right down to it, there are really only two areas where we actually exercise love. We either love self or we love God.

      Think about it. Our love for others is always based on some personal benefit. We love others because we receive love in return. We love others because of some benefit that we receive from them. While our love for others may be strong and enduring, in the end, we love because there is something in it for self. That hurts, but it is true.

      Even our love for God is always less than it could or should be. Our love for Him only exists because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19. Our love for Him is a direct response to His love for us. Sadly, even our love for Him is tainted by sin.

      I am not trying to cast love in a bad light today. I am trying to get you to see that our love is imperfect at best. But, while our love is imperfect, it is still a powerful motivator. I will serve the one I love. If I am in love with self, everything I do will be designed to benefit self. If I am in love with God, then that love will motivate me to serve Him.

      As Jesus brings His ministry in the Temple to a close, He gives us a tremendous lesson in love. I want to preach on this thought: Everybody Loves Somebody. I want you to see two truths today. I want you to see that Some People Love A Fool; while Some People Love The Father. Let’s examine our hearts today and find out who we really love.


  I.                  SOME PEOPLE LOVE A FOOL

(Ill. The word “fool” is a strong word. A “fool” is defined as, “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment and sense; a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid.”

      That is not a word that should be thrown about casually. Jesus said this, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire,” Matt. 5:22.  The word “Raca” refers to “an empty headed person”. It could literally be translated, “You empty head.” The word “fool” translates the word “moros”, which gives us the word “moron.”

      We say such things in jest. Jesus is referring to people who speak about others from a heart of hatred. It is from a heart filled with hate that murder arises. Hatred for others in the heart is the same as murder in God’s eyes, 1 John 3:15.

      So, while there are fools, morons and empty-headed people in this world, we need to be careful to whom we attach that label. I have no right to call anyone a fool, but God does. Here is what He said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…”, Psa. 14:1.

      You will notice that the two words “there is” are in italics. That means they were supplied by the translators to make the text more readable. In this case, they cause us to read the text one way, when the true intent of the Holy Spirit may be something else altogether.

      Most people see this text as referring to the atheist. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Certainly the person who denies the existence of God is a foolish person. They lack judgment and good sense.

      If you read the text without the italicized words it says, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.” According to this reading, the fool is someone who refuses to acknowledge God as his Sovereign and as His Savior.

      The text before us presents two classes of people who are in love with fools. Why do I say that? First, the people mentioned here are fools, because they have refused to bow to the authority of Jesus Christ. Second, they are in love with a fool, because this text teaches us that they are in love with themselves. Let’s examine that thought for a moment.)

A.  The Religious Fool – In vv 38-40, Jesus gives a scathing attack against the scribes. The scribes were the “doctors of the Law”. They read, copied and interpreted the Law for the Jewish people. They were considered the authorities in what the Law taught. In a sense, they were religious celebrities, receiving near worship from the common man.

      They may have been religious, but they were religious fools. They were foolish because they refused to follow the spirit of the Word of God, and they refused to acknowledge God’s Messiah when He came. They were also foolish in that they loved themselves more than they could ever love God.

      Consider the Lord’s description of these men.

·         They love to go in long clothing – The scribes were known by the long, white robes they wore. These robes had long fringe around the hem. Their attire made them stand out from the common man, because common people dressed in brightly colored clothing. The scribes in their long, flowing, white robes certainly stood out. The fringe gave them the illusion that they were gliding about instead of walking.

·         They love salutations in the marketplace – When the scribes passed by, everyone stood up out of respect. The only people who were not required to stand were the tradesmen who were involved in their work.

      As the scribes passed various verbal greetings were spoken to them. People cried things like “Rabbi”, “Master”, “Father”, or even “my great one”, as they walked past.

·         They love the chief seats in the synagogue – The chief seat in the synagogue was a bench that sat in from of the chest containing the scrolls of the Torah. The scribes were seated here so that they would be seen as being near the Law to guard it. From this bench, the scribes could be seen by everyone in the synagogue.

·         They love the uppermost rooms at feasts – When wealthy Jews gave a feast, scribes were often invited to serve as adornment. The scribes were the “A”-List celebrities of the day and having them there would draw a crowd to your party. When the scribes arrived, they were given seats next to the host. They occupied the place of honor. It was a place of high honor.

·         They devour widows houses – Scribes often served as “estate planners”. They would write out legal documents for illiterate widows. Some were guilty of convincing poor widows that they would be serving God by supporting the Temple, or by supporting the scribe himself. When this happened, the scribe profited and whatever the husband left for his wife was taken away through extortion.

·         They make a show of their religious activities – The scribes loved to stand in public and pray long, loud, elaborate, wordy prayers that they hoped would impress the uneducated common people. Jesus spoke of this behavior in Matt. 6:5-6.

·         They are headed for great and terrible judgment – These men were nothing but religious hypocrites and they will face God Almighty in judgment someday. These are the kinds of people Jesus referred to in Matt. 7:21-23.


(Ill. As I think about the Lord’s warning to these religious men, I think of a few lessons that we can glean right here.

·         There are no scribes here today, but there are some who possess the same attitude that controlled these men. To them, religion was a game. They did not have a personal relationship with God, but they believed that their good works and their devotion to the Law would be enough to save their souls. The fact is, they were dead wrong, and if you believe that, you are too!

      Religion and religious activities can not, do not and will not save the soul, Eph. 2:8-9. Doing good things and keeping good rules will never save you. You must be in a faith relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:6; Acts 16:31.

      Everything they did was geared toward satisfying their pride and making them look good in the eyes of others. They were literally in love with themselves and had no room in their hearts for God.

      If you love yourself, you are in love with a fool, and you will spend eternity with that fool in Hell. Are you a religious fool? Are you in love with yourself? If you are, you will be disappointed when Jesus comes.

·         This kind of religious superiority still exists in our churches. You see it all the time. Sometimes you will see so-called big name preachers. They come in and expect to be catered to and given places of honor in the church. You see them in their robes and their collars acting just like the scribes in Jesus’ day. That attitude isn’t right!

      The preacher is no better than the people in the pews! He is one of them, saved from among them, and given a call to feed them and lead them, but that is all! He is not to be exalted. He is not to be worshiped. He is not to be viewed as a superior, but as an equal in the eyes of God!

      Let me say one more thing about this. When a visiting preacher comes to this church, we need to respect his call and his office. Call him “Brother”; call him “Preacher So and So”, but never call him by his first name. It’s not that you are elevating him, but it is a sign of respect for God’s call on his life.

      When it comes to me, let me say a word or two. First, let’s drop this “reverend” business! I do not like to hear it, and I do not like to be called by that title. That word appears in your Bible one time. It is found in Psa. 111:9. That verse says, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” No man on this earth qualifies for that title. It is God’s title and should not be used of men!

      I do not need, want, or demand to be called “Reverend” or “Doctor”. I am no different or better than you. I am just a man saved by the grace of God and that is good enough for me!

      You also see it among the members of the church. People like Diotrephes, 3 John 9, who think they are the head of the church, still exist. Everything has to be cleared through them. They have to have a say in everything that happens. They want to be recognized, honored and in control, just like the ancient scribes. People like that are dangerous, divisive people! They are religious fools.

B.  The Rich Fool – When Jesus finished teaching the people, He took a seat near the “treasury”. This area was in the “Court of the Women” and was an area set aside for giving. The treasury consisted of thirteen receptacles where people could make their contributions. These receptacles were shaped like inverted trumpets, with a large end at the top and a small end at the bottom. Each of these trumpets was labeled as to what the offerings placed in it were to be used for. Nine of the trumpets were for various dues related the Law. The other four were for voluntary offerings of various natures. People gave by approaching the trumpets and dropping in their offerings.

      As Jesus sat there, He watched the people bringing their gifts, and He watched how they gave those gifts. The word “beheld” means “to view attentively; to perceive”. Jesus saw what they were doing with His eyes and He saw the motive of their hearts as they gave.

      Some came in with great fanfare, standing back and tossing in their gift for the greatest effect. Others gave with a frown on their face, holding onto their coins as tightly as they could to the very last second. Others probably stopped to make sure that everyone was watching them as they gave their offerings.

            Matt. 6:1-4 describes some of the excesses that marked the Jews and their giving in Jesus’ day. Some would hire trumpeters to go before them so that attention would be drawn to them and their giving. They would come to the treasury and make a great show of casting in their money. As their money fell into the trumpet, it would make a great noise. Heads would turn and people would stare in admiration at these people who gave great sums of money to the Temple.

            Imagine the scene as the trumpets blared, the applause rose and fell and the sound of coins echoed throughout the Temple.

·         Most of these people were not giving for the glory of God; they were giving for the praise of men. According to Jesus, when they received the praise of others, they got all they were going to get, Matt. 6:2. They were fools, because they also loved themselves.

·         Whether you love your religious works, your possessions or you simply love yourself, your love is misplaced! You can never give enough or be good enough to impress God or to gain His salvation. There is only one “work” God will accept, John 6:27-29.

      The only way you will ever get to God is to come to the end of yourself, fall down before Him and admit your absolute weakness and inability. You will never be saved until you come to that place! So, do you love God, or are you in love with a fool?

      Just remember that you cannot impress God. You cannot please God. Your riches and your religion will only lead to Hell. Jesus is the only path that leads to glory.


 II.                   SOME PEOPLE LOVE THE FATHER

(Ill. As Jesus watched the rich people coming and going, giving their money with fanfare and excitement, He saw a poor widow enter the treasury. As Jesus watched this poor, humble woman gave her gift. The people shouted and applauded for the rich people and their large gifts. No one noticed this widow. No one, that is, but the only One that matters! Surely Jesus was standing and applauding in His heart. In this widow’s giving, we can see a portrait of genuine love for the Father.)

A.  The Evidence Of This Love – The evidence of her love is seen in the fact that she even gave at all. She was a poor widow. Widows were the poorest of the poor in that society. There was no Social Security. There was no welfare. Widows lived hand to mouth.

      Here is a widow who comes into the presence of God to give to Him. She doesn’t have much. “Two mites” translates the word “lepton”, which means “the thin one”. Scholars are divided over how much these coins were worth, but it was a mere fraction of an average day’s pay.

       It was a gift that amounted to nothing of any value, as far as money was concerned. When she dropped her two little coins in that trumpet, they made no noise at all among the clamor of the people and clanging of the gifts of the rich. She didn’t have much, but she gave anyway! What a testimony!

      Why would she bother to give such an insignificant gift? Her two cents among the thousands of dollars given by the wealthy seems so small. Why bother? This little lady is everything the religious scribes and the rich hypocrites were not. She was a living, breathing illustration of Mark 12:29-31.

      She gave because she loved God. She gave her little because He had given her everything. She loved Him more than her own life and she proved it by the way she gave.

B.  The Extravagance Of This Love – Jesus saw her giving and He said, “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” Jesus commended her giving because she gave everything she had! She could have kept one of those coins for herself, but she willingly gave everything she had to Jesus. Everything that poor woman had earned for her own needs was given willingly to the Lord. She is an example of extravagant giving!

            Ill. The Bible is filled with such extravagant giving. Consider Abraham who offered his son Isaac, Gen. 22:1-14. Consider Hannah who gave her son Samuel to God, 1 Sam. 1:28. Consider the widow who gave the last of her food to Elijah, 1 Kings 17:8-16. Consider Mary who gave up a very expensive box of ointment and her own glory, 1 Cor. 11:15, to honor the Lord Jesus, John 12:1-8. Consider people like Stephen, James and others who literally gave up their lives for the glory of God. Why did these people pay such a price? They did it because they loved God more than they loved themselves or their stuff. They didn’t give until it hurt; they gave until it felt good! That is a lesson we could all learn! After all, everything we have is from Him and should be dedicated to Him!

C.  The Extent Of This Love – That widow could have never known what her gift would accomplish. She walked into that Temple, ignored by the rich, the religious and those caught up in the celebrity worship of the day. She walked in there with her little gift and she gave it without fanfare.

      The rich gave, they received their applause and they walked away. This poor widow gave and walked away, but her gift is still giving today. How many people have been challenged to go ahead and give their little because of this woman’s example? I have thought her giving on many occasions!

      The rich people gave that day to be acknowledged by men. They were, and they received their reward. That widow gave because she loved God. When she gave, there were no trumpet blasts. There were no ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd. There was no applause. But, I am almost sure that Jesus was standing up on the inside applauding her. I am almost sure that God in Heaven was nodding His Divine approval over her give of love. One day, she will stand in His presence and she will be rewarded for her faith. On that day she will be publically acknowledged, commended and rewarded by God almighty!


(Ill. There are some observations I want to make before I close the message today. We need to allow God to use these matters to speak to our hearts and to help us grow in the Lord.

·         The attitude of our hearts in giving makes all the difference – 1 Cor. 13:3; 2 Cor. 9:7. How we give is far more important than what we give!

·         The motivation for our giving reveals the depth of our faith in God – When this widow gave, she gave everything she had to give. When she gave, she was preaching a powerful sermon. She was saying:

Ψ  I give because I love Him – She loved Him for His grace, His mercy and His salvation.

Ψ  I give because I trust Him – She did not need two coins to matt her needs, she had the God Who feed the sparrows to watch out over her.

Ψ  I give because He has given to me – She knew that everything she had was given to her by the Lord. She could do not less than give back what she had been give out of gratitude and love. (Ill. Luke 6:38) (Ill. 2 Cor. 8:9)

·         God will do great things with our small offerings – Tell me the amount of any other offering made during that Passover week. We do not know what any other giver gave that week, but after 2,000 years the tiny gift of that widow has been multiplied into untold billions as people have been motivated to give out of their own poverty. (Ill. Mary and her gift of an alabaster box of ointment – Mark 14:9.)

·         The Lord will settle His accounts one day – The scribes and the wealthy men there that day had their reward then. This widow will receive her reward later!

      Do what you do for Him and leave the results with Him. Do not trumpet your giving. If you do, you will receive your reward here. Keep it simple and silent and God will bless in His way and in His time, Matt. 6:3.

·         It is the attitude of our hearts, not the size of our gift that makes what we give usable to the Lord – In other words, no one has an advantage over others in the work of the Lord. It does not matter about your education, your wealth, your abilities, or about any other thing. What matters is the attitude of your heart. If you use what you have as He tells you, He will use what you give Him for His glory!

·         God does not want our money; He wants us – He wants our love and our devotion and when He has that, He has everything else that we possess. When God has a person, He has that person’s pocketbook.


Conc: The real point of this story has nothing to do with giving. The real point of this story has everything to do with the attitude of the heart. The real point of this story is the contrast between the hypocritical scribe and this humble widow.

      The religious and the rich folks in these verses loved themselves. They did what they did to be seen of men. They were motivated in all they did by the twin evils of pride and self-love.

      The widow, on the other hand, was motivated by her love for God. Because of her devotion, her gift lives on.

      The question that you face today is this: Who do you really love? Do you do what you do because you are in love with Jesus? Or, do you do what you do because you are in love with yourself?

      Has God spoken to your heart about who you love?

·         If you have seen that you are in love with self, and you feel a pull to fall in love with the Savior, I invite you to come.

·         If He has spoken to you about your giving, come to Him and talk to Him about it.

·         If you want to give Him the greatest gift of all, come and give Him yourself in renewed love and devotion today.

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