JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (BNC) by Tim Hall — First, there was Black Friday, the annual day to kick back from the turkey and head out to the malls to push and shove away all those extra calories. Later, came Cyber Monday, just in case you still had some of your Christmas cash available. Now, we have been presented with Giving Tuesday. I personally received nearly a dozen emails from organizations encouraging me to join in.

The biggest splash of all on Giving Tuesday was clearly made by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and his wife Chan. In announcing the birth of their daughter Max, the Zuckerbergs also stated — on Facebook, of course — that they would be giving 99% of their Facebook shares during the course of their lives “to advancing human potential and promoting equality.”

As of yesterday, that pledge was worth about $45 billion. (Yes, that’s the letter “b” in the last word of that sentence.)

For the last few years we’ve heard about the generosity of Bill and Melinda Gates and their charitable foundation. Warren Buffet has joined forces with the Gates, and billions of dollars are set aside for causes they believe in. Regardless of how the money is used (which sometimes runs counter to Christian values), it’s refreshing to see the mega-rich setting an example of giving.

As impressive as the Zuckerbergs’ pledge of 99% of their shares may be, it doesn’t overshadow a gift given long ago. Luke recorded the event:

“And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, ‘Truly I saw to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had'” (Luke 21:1-4).

This is not to say that large gifts are unimportant; Barnabas once sold some land he possessed, “and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37). We’re not told the value of that sale, but it must have been substantial. The fact that it is recorded in Scripture also suggests it was pleasing to the Lord, for the funds were for the support of the weak and needy. Large gifts can be very pleasing to God.

What the example of the widow teaches us is that even small gifts make a difference, if they are given from a sincere and genuine faith. In Matthew 10:42 Jesus gave this encouraging insight: “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall be no means lose his reward.” The world won’t read about a gift like that on the Internet, but God will see.

Helping others? It’s God’s will. As Paul reminds us, we are to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35).

Tim is a gospel preacher working with the Central congregation in Johnson City, Tenn. He writes the weekly LightGrams and kindly gave BNC permission to publish this one.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us