Reflecting On the Hypocrisy in My Life
Translated by Allan Liang
The Scripture verses from 41-44 do not teach us how to offer, just as the mentioning of prayer in verse 40 is not meant to instruct us on how to pray (Matthew 6:5-6), but is a rebuke of the boastful and hypocritical spirit of the teachers of law. This is likely to make clear that, continuing on the foundation of the above Scripture, though the widow was so poor, even then, they still devoured her belongings - how abominable were they! From this, an even greater contrast was produced, by which Jesus forcefully rebuked the sins of the teachers of the law: sins of swindling, unlimited greed, hypocrisy, and their outer-concealment of piety, so as to warn believers to follow the Lord in walking this path of the cross. Verse 42, as some versions translate: “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.” The word “poor” is not frequently used in Greek, and appears only once in the entire New Testament, meaning “abjectly poor”. The entire fortune of the widow consisted of only two small copper coins. A small copper coin: this coin was called a Lepton, and had the lowest face value of all Jewish coins. The value of a penny was 1/64 of a Roman silver coin (a silver coin in those times was equal to the average day’s wage). Mark once again offered translations for foreign readers (Mark 7:34). If we evaluate offerings based on how much is left, then this widow clearly offered more than anyone else. Such a person who so trusted in and loved God, yet may have been oppressed by these teachers of the law. Are the sins of these teachers of the law great, are they abominable, do these sins exist in our lives? Verse 41 says, “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put,” a very exaggerated and ironic description; have you thought about “the lead pastor sitting across from the offering box,” rather than saying this was a scene of a true discipline of monetary offering, it is better said that the Lord Jesus called out to the inner hearts of the people and his disciples, reminding them saying “I, Jesus, know what your hearts are truly like.” However, it is common today for most pastors to not exercise their right in knowing the situation for the offerings of believers, even though pastors should be able to know the offerings of believers. These passages of Scripture have been used by Christians in the church most often in the area of monetary offering, through which their conscience is comforted. They clearly do not want to offer much, but also know that this is a clear teaching in the Bible (Malachi 3:7-10, 2 Corinthians 9:7-14), and proceed to comfort themselves saying: Lord, you know that I am not too rich (at most, middle-class), this little bit of offering, even if it is the widow’s two coins, God, you will “accept” it and bless it. Will the LORD truly accept it? From the context of today’s sharing, it is most likely that you have misused a passage of Scripture. Pastor Stephen Tong testified that 80 percent of his income goes toward the Lord’s ministry, and from the fruit of his work and how greatly the LORD has used him, it is evident that his monetary offering and his love of God cannot be separated. Some people think that the New Testament does not have the teaching of tithing (giving one-tenth of income), to which Pastor Tong replied with this rebuke, “why does being cheerful and willing mean giving less (2 Corinthians 9:7), if you love your fiance, can you give her parents 50 pieces of choice gold rather than 5? What is your answer? Hence, love is exceeding, not lessening! Let this be said by all people! Any church that does not uphold tithing will not grow.” How much do we love the Lord, let this be a piercing reminder. On May 31st, I attended for the first time a memorial meeting where the primary participants were the student leaders of the June 4th democracy movement, the Tian An Men Mothers, and related scholars. Seeing the heaviness of the sufferings of the people involved, the great number of people oppressed and the number of people imprisoned for helping the family members of the victims, makes me astounded and saddened. On one hand, I am thankful for the annual prayer meetings held by FCNABC (Faith Chinese Church of North America) since 2009, criticising evil and asking God to show justice. On the other hand, I am quite ashamed for not giving even one card or one penny over these 31 years to the victimized groups, and for thinking that I had quite a just heart. How can we preach the gospel to the June 4th democracy movement groups? Prayer is an important expression of love, and is the start of any good work, but prayer itself is not enough. This is the hypocrisy in my life, may God show mercy and forgiveness. How about you, dear brothers and sisters? Please read carefully the following Scripture verses, Mark 12:41-44, meditate, reflect and pray: Where do the different stages of hypocrisy appear in my life? May God shine his light upon us so that we may continually repent, acknowledge sin, hate sin and forsake sin. May God help us more greatly love the church, and within our communities, the orphans, widows, impoverished and oppressed (James 1:27), bringing to them the gospel through the love and living testimony of Jesus Christ.