"Enriched in Every Way"

The movie "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" starred Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, and Richard Dreyfuss, and appeared in theaters in 1986.  Nolte is a homeless man who tries to drown himself in the pool of the rich married couple played by Midler and Dreyfuss, who live in a very well-to-do neighborhood in Beverly Hills.  Dreyfuss made a fortune in coat hangers, of all things, and they are very wealthy, with way more than they need, which of course contrasts greatly with Nolte's situation. 

They live next door to Little Richard, who if anything has an even bigger and more ostentatious house than they do.  It must be because of that comparison that Midler's character at one point talks about something being an affront to her "middle class values".  I guess you're middle class if your neighbor has more than you do?  The family was far from middle class--they even have a therapist for their dog!

And despite that, despite all of their wealth, all of their creature comforts, all of the freedom to do and buy anything that money can bring, they are not happy.  They just seem to be enduring their marriage.  Dreyfuss's character is having an affair with the maid, and Midler's character is bored with her life and tries a variety of "New Age" therapies.  It is through their involvement with the homeless Nolte that they get a sense of what life is really all about, and discover that indeed "money can't buy happiness".  It would seem cliched, if it weren't true.  After all, how many winners of the big lottery end up miserable? 

In Mark 12, Jesus is watching people putting their offering into the treasury at the Temple.  A poor widow puts in "everything that she has".  Jesus points her out, and comments that she gives our of her poverty, rather than out of her abundance--since she is so destitute that she has no abundance.  He points out her generosity, proportionate to what she has.

We don't get to hear her words, or peer into her mind, but it causes me to wonder if she is acting in faith on the guideline given by Malachi 3:10: "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing."  This is not a calculation, and equation--I put in X, and God gives me Y--but is rather a recognition that the God who gives everything will not abandon us in our time of need--and that it is all God's anyhow.  God does indeed bless.  Living out life in faith can attest to that.


OLD TESTAMENT    Malachi 3:10

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. 

GOSPEL     Mark 12:41-44

41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’

NEW TESTAMENT     2 Corinthians 9:6-15

6 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9 As it is written,
‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
   his righteousness endures forever.’ 
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!