Because she was all in

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

by Charles Qualls

You’ve heard the joke, no doubt: What is the difference between the egg and the bacon you eat for breakfast? When you eat, the chicken has made a contribution, while the pig was all in.

“All in.” It’s a term we probably associate with card games. One compliment I have gotten since we arrived here in Franklin, and it’s really one of the best things I ever hear, is “I like you and Elizabeth because I can tell you two are all in.” We are. 

You can tell when folks are “all in” and when they are just sticking a toe in the water. Church gives us a front-row seat to watch both ways of being.

We need to walk up to the widow here in Mark 12: 38-44 very carefully. Very humbly. Because none of us truly know what it is like to be in her shoes. Parts of your story match up with hers, maybe. But, not all of it. To be a widow in the ancient near-eastern world 2,000 years ago would have been a life you and I can’t truly imagine. 

We simply won’t do what she did. So, we shouldn’t act like we would.

We also need to be careful with today’s story. In the words of one writer on the same text, Prince Rivers, “Let me be the first to say that its intent is not to manipulate poor people into giving beyond their ability. It also doesn’t condone exploitation of the poor.”

I am convinced that Jesus liked to watch people. It’s funny, but for a long time I have felt as though we have a huge gap in the art world when it comes to depictions of Jesus. To prove my point, I opened up Google to see if I could find the kind of painting or drawing that I am so convinced is missing. First, I did an image search on “Jesus watching.” There were silly things, but none of Jesus just standing in the marketplace or the temple taking in what humanity was up to.

Finally, I tried searching on “Jesus marketplace” and “Jesus temple.” Again, one can find paintings of Jesus with the whip clearing out the money-changers’ tables. But none with the pensive, reflective Jesus just observing from a distance to take in what people were doing. Yet, that is exactly what He did in v41. 

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, it says, and just watched. I think He had done the same thing at parties and down in the marketplace. We know that He had in the temple courtyard as well. His opposition to what went on in these places, in the name of God, didn’t just brew up on the spot as if he were some temperamental hot-headed reactionary.

He did the same thing that you or I could do. Did the same thing that a lot of people do when they are evaluating how serious we are here about our faith. He just watched religious people.

He wanted to see if there was any substance to all the pomp-and-circumstance of their faith as they paraded around and were sure they were being seen by all the right people looking all church-like.

We’ve all been stuck at school, at work and at church, paired up on a team with someone who talks a good game. But doesn’t deliver. 

You don’t have to be a genius to know that’s not the best way for any church or company or organization to run. You also know whether YOU are all-in right now this minute. You know whether you are plugged in, with your family, within your community, and within your company or in your church.

Truth is, some of the people were putting on airs. Their giving was part of the theater of their lives.  They put their money into the plate alright. But, they wanted to be sure they were seen doing so. What they were putting in was practically a small “tip” for God compared with what they should have given.

Jesus ended up commending a little widow who put two small coins into the offering. Her money was nearly worthless, because her gift was so small. Yet, Jesus said that her gift was actually the greatest one offered that day. She had given from her poverty, while the grandstanders had practically given God a tip from out of their abundance. They had held back, while she was all in.

In what ways do I hold back on God? How could I do better at offering God the very best of my time, talents, energy and interest in things that matter to the Almighty?

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.