Why doesn’t Jesus fix the system?


Mark 12:41-44

“all she had to live on…” v. 44

Why doesn’t God make everything fair? Why does he seem to allow some people to skate through life in ease while others struggle? I don’t have a complete answer for you, but I do have something to think about that may shed light on it.

We’re all inspired by the story of the widow’s mite. Who hasn’t heard about this remarkable woman who gave her last cent, literally, to the temple? Jesus says that she gave more than all the wealthy donors, who gave merely a sample of their riches. This is a powerful story of what true giving is. But today this story raises an odd question for me, not about the woman, but about Jesus. Why didn’t he do something?

He was obviously moved by the faith it took for her to give out of her poverty. He said so. But why did he let her do it? He saw her put in her last penny and walk away. Why didn’t he reach into the treasury and take out a handful of cash and give it to her? Instead he let her make the sacrifice and go home penniless. Doesn’t this make you wonder? She went home without anything to show for her sacrifice. In fact she may have never known that Jesus saw her. As far as she knew it was just another day to give what she had to the Lord.

What happened to her next? What was her name? How old was she? How long did she live? We don’t know any of these things. But as I said, the greatest question for me is, why didn’t Jesus stop her from giving all she had? Why didn’t he go up to some of those rich folks and demand that they give her some of their wealth?

Why didn’t he start some kind of program that required the wealthy to give her help out of their riches? Why not tell this woman that she wasn’t allowed to give because she clearly was not capable of making better financial decisions? Why didn’t he let her off the hook and tell her she didn’t have to give, because she was too poor?

At the very least he could have made cash appear in her purse supernaturally. Didn’t he care about this poor woman? Couldn’t the man who had cleared the temple, just days earlier, have done something to even out this unfair system that allows the rich to give leftovers while the poor give all they have? I have some thoughts to consider.

Perhaps one reason had to do with preserving her dignity. It could be that Jesus was more concerned with who this woman was than with what she had. He allowed her the privilege of voluntarily making a sacrifice for her God and trusting him to meet her needs. Sometimes God shows his love for us best by not fixing things, but allowing us the dignity and freedom to walk through them by faith.

Maybe it had something to do with allowing her to take responsibility for her own life and for the faith community she was involved in. Perhaps he knew that to take away a person’s right to be responsible beyond themselves, even at great personal cost, was a greater crime than economic unfairness. Even the needy have a responsibility, and should be allowed to fulfill it as they are able.

Or it could have been his desire to grant her power. She exercised great power in that moment. We can only imagine her thoughts as she dropped those tiny coins into the treasury. But it must have been a bit empowering for her to see that she was not completely helpless. She had the power to do something, no matter how small. The alternative would have been to make her feel helpless and useless in her community.

Then again, it could have been that he wanted to honor her faith, by allowing her to express it freely. When you take away a person’s ability to believe, and act on that belief you tear out a piece of their soul. I have no doubt that after this event the Lord honored her great faith and somehow provided for her. God always honors faith. I’m so glad Jesus allowed her to use it.

So what does this all mean for us? You tell me. What does it mean that our Lord will allow us the freedom to struggle, sacrifice, give, and live by faith? What does it mean that he allows, and even expects all of us to be responsible for how we live out our faith? What does it mean that he will even allow things to be unfair at times, but still expects us to live by obedient faith?

What does this tell us about how to treat the poor? The rich?

How do we minister to least of these without destroying their dignity and sense of responsibility in the process?

How do we challenge the wealthy without demonizing them?

What about faith? sacrifice? Do the same rules apply to everyone?

What does all this mean for our ministries and mission trips?

I’m gonna leave you hanging at this point, because I respect your ability to come to your own conclusions and live out your faith accordingly. Have a great day.

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