Giving freely will lead to satisfied heart

By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist

Charlie and I were in New York City for several days about three years ago. It was a wonderful experience — to see Ground Zero and to spend a day at the Statue of Liberty was something we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Our week was packed with all kinds of sight-seeing trips. One day we reserved just spend time in Central Park, talking to people we met and just watching the activity.

We also had the chance to see some Broadway shows. One of the shows was Mama Mia and the songs and orchestra were just phenomenal. The original songs brought back memories of high school days for both of us.

As we sat there in the old theater and listened, I have thought about one song in particular many times since then.

The song was “Money, Money, and Money.” One of the lines go like this: “Money, money … it’s a rich man’s world. Money … all the things I could do, if I had a little money … it’s a rich man’s world!”

And isn’t that what we all tend to think at times? But it is so contrary to what the Bible says about money. Maybe because it is nearing April 15th, the big tax day, money has been on my mind. Yet, the Bible always brings us back to what is most important. Think about the story in the Bible of the widow found in Luke 21:1-4

She was a widow in the temple in services that day. She was an example of a person giving a great amount when she had very little money. But the paradox is that she was probably happier that all those in church worship that day.

It was a typical church day scene. The Pharisees, who were the teachers of the religion law, lined up in church and were making big deal and to-do about how much money they gave and how much other people gave.

Then in the group of churchgoers there was a little woman, a widow giving her offering and she just dropped in “two mites.” Remember that widows in that day had no means of support unless they had a son who supported them.

Even though the big businessman of the day and the successful entrepreneurs of Jerusalem may have been lining up to give their hundreds and thousands, Jesus singled the little widow out who just gave “two mites.”

Then Jesus said something that astonished all those Pharisees who were listening. He said that the widow had given more than anyone else, although it was a small amount. Why? Because she had given all she had.

That was a sharp message for the Pharisees. Their way of thinking was totally different than the little widow.

Jesus knew what was in their hearts. They were thinking that being spiritual was how much one worked in church, how much one gave to church and how visible one was in church.

Jesus’ message about the widow’s offering was radical teaching in Jesus’ day and the Pharisees did not accept the message well.

Isaiah 58:10-11 reads: “Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”

The principles in the song “Money, Money, Money” do not really make for a satisfied heart.

The verses in Isaiah show us why generous people are happy people.

When we freely give, we do not deplete our resources, but replenish them like an “ever-flowing spring.”