Cyprian of Carthage: Not how much, but from how much

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[Jesus] looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them, for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

“But you who are such as this, cannot labour in the Church. For your eyes, overcast with the gloom of blackness, and shadowed in night, do not see the needy and poor. You are wealthy and rich, and do you think that you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, not at all considering the offering, who come to the Lord’s Supper without a sacrifice, and yet take part of the sacrifice which the poor man has offered?

Consider in the Gospel the widow that remembered the heavenly precepts, doing good even amidst the difficulties and straits of poverty, casting two mites, which were all that she had, into the treasury; whom when the Lord observed and saw, regarding her work not for its abundance, but for its intention, and considering not how much, but from how much, she had given, He answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, that that widow hath cast in more than they all into the offerings of God. For all these have, of that which they had in abundance, cast in unto the offerings of God; but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”

Greatly blessed and glorious woman, who even before the day of judgment hast merited to be praised by the voice of the Judge! Let the rich be ashamed of their barrenness and unbelief. The widow, the widow needy in means, is found rich in works. And although everything that is given is conferred upon widows and orphans, she gives, whom it behoved to receive, that we may know thence what punishment, awaits the barren rich man, when by this very instance even the poor ought to labour in good works.

And in order that we may understand that their labors are given to God, and that whoever performs them deserves well of the Lord, Christ calls this “the offerings of God,” and intimates that the widow has cast in two farthings into the offerings of God, that it may be more abundantly evident that he who hath pity on the poor lendeth to God.”

Cyprian of Carthage (190-258) in his Treatise 8. On Works and Alms, 15.

Let Cyprian’s words sink in.

Jesus cares “not how much, but from how much” we give. Or in plain terms, He cares not about how much we give, but about how much we hold back and what that says about our hearts.

If you have an abundance, let me suggest a place to put it.

Share it with the poor of the world, but not as a handout that creates a dependency. Give them a hand up to build them as disciples who can build up others. Give to GTP here.

That’s our work at GTP. Let me explain.

We have workers in places like Albania, Brazil, and Japan begging for GTP to engage translation work of resources to help them strengthen administration, local resource development, and biblical governance of ministry.

They don’t want to rely on handouts from outsiders. They want to be taught and trained to aid others.

That’s partly what I am doing in Cayman Islands this week (pictured above). At GTP, we’ve poured into workers like Rev. Dr. Sylvia Wilks. She has passed the instruction on to others.

It’s resulted in a movement to form a peer accountability group here.

But let’s go back to your situation. If you are sitting on earthly wealth, then Cyprian’s words are fitting for you. Don’t be overcome by “barrenness and unbelief” but put in all you have so that you too may be “praised by the voice of the Judge.”

You never realize that Christ is all you need until He’s your only hope for today and the future.

If this seems radical to you, I want to invite you to journey through Lent with me and GTP. I wrote a devotional book called Lent Companion, and will be doing three instructional zooms during Lent on Giving, Prayer, and Fasting.

Click here to register to join this global Lent cohort at no cost.