Serving Mammon in the Church
by Ronald W Robey
(written March 23, 2021)

Many sermons have been preached from Mark 12:41-44. And many pastors use the passage to teach that Jesus was commending the widow in the passage for “generous giving.” But was He really commending her? Let’s take a closer look at what is happening in the passage, shall we?

Read the passage about the widow who threw two mites into the treasury (Mark 12:41-44) in context to get a clearer understanding of what was going on. Context requires that we first look at the events of the previous day.

Mark 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

The events in Mark 11 take place the day prior to the widow going to the Temple. Jesus was rebuking the Temple Staff because they had turned the House of Prayer into “a den of thieves“. He accuses them of several other things, then leaves the Temple. But He returns to the Temple the next day. This time, He comes to warn the crowds to beware of the Temple Staff.

Among the many things He discloses to the crowds is the fact that the Temple Staff is “devouring widow’s houses.

Mark 12:38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
Mark 12:39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Mark 12:40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Then, Jesus sits against a wall and watches the people throwing money into the treasury box.

Mark 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

Enter the widow. It is no coincidence that the widow entered the Temple just after Jesus finished His words of warning to the crowds. The widow would demonstrate to the crowds just how widow’s houses were being devoured by the Temple Staff.

Mark 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Mark 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
Mark 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

The widow was being forced to give to the Temple, which, let me remind you, Jesus called a “den of thieves” just the day before. She threw all her living into the treasury box.

The Greek word that the word “threw” is translated from in this passage is the word “ballo“. It means, “to throw with a degree of force, more or less violent.” Lexicographers liken the action to that of “throwing away the contents of a chamber pot.” In other words, the widow threw the money into the treasury violently, and she did so with disgust. She was not happily giving that money. She was being forced to give it. The den of thieves and its corrupt Staff were demanding money from widows.

This particular widow went into the Temple poor, and left the Temple destitute. All she had to live on was thrown in the treasury box. Ask yourself, “Why would Jesus be commending the widow for giving all she had to live on to a corrupt Temple system? Why would He praise her for supporting a den of thieves?

Yes, the church today needs money in order to be able to provide teaching materials, to pay utility bills, et.al. However, when the church has to rely on lying to its members in order to gain support, that church is no different than the Temple in Mark 11:17…

…it is a den of thieves.

They are not serving God with their deception. They are serving mammon. And why would God be pleased with us supporting a den of thieves?

If your church is teaching biblical truth without wavering, then you should support your church to the best of your ability. However, if it is corrupt in any way; if the church leaders are handling the word of God deceitfully, then they should not be supported, they should be replaced.