It was Feb 21, 1990 at The Grammy’s, the highest award for the Music Industry. Everyone was waiting for the winner of “Best New Artist”. It went to a group who put on some major dance moves, and they sold millions of records and scored 3 #1 songs. 41 weeks in the top 10, and 7 of those at #1. They became famous…and infamous. Let me explain.

About 5 months before the Grammy’s, at one of their concerts, their song track skipped. The Audience didn’t think much of it, until Rob ran off the stage. 10 months after winning that Best New Artist Grammy, their producer shared more about that record skipping event, and eventually, he exposed that Milli Vanilli NEVER sang a note on their record. They lip-synced every single song. The gave back their Grammy. And the 6 million who bought the Milli Vanilli CD, could return it, and get their money back.

In Mark, Chapter 12, there’s a story that you probably thought you knew everything about, but like Milli Vanilli, there’s more to it.  It’s sometimes called the widow’s mite, or “the widow’s offering”.

She’s the one who put her last two copper coins into the offering box. It was all she had to live on, and Jesus praises her for her faith, as she was trusting God to provide despite her bank account. Reminding us that we, too, should be more generous, and God will bless us like that sweet woman. Right? Well, like lip-syncing, not quite.

The widow comes into the temple, and Jesus takes the time to bring some perspective to teach the disciples by giving perspective of not just sacrificial giving, but she, like the record track that skipped, exposed something bigger: a Temple system that is broken.

It IS true that she gave her only remaining coins. But the REAL story is that the lip-syncing filthy, corrupt temple system drove her to the point of only HAVING two copper coins (Mark 12:42)!

So, like the producer who blew the cover on Milli Vanilli, I see Jesus getting fired up over this teaching moment as He exposes the corruption and oppression of these religious dudes. Don’t get me wrong, this is sacrificial giving—she gave ALL she had! But, something had to change! The temple system was corrupt. These leaders were lip-syncing their faith.

Are you loving people with the heart of God? Or, is it more like a Milli Vanilli lip-sync concert? This is between you and God. We are called to strive for actions that give us peace, and serve God the way He wants to be served, and give as God wants us to give. Jesus loves the lost, the broken, the marginalized. He’s with those on the other side of the line and calls us to do the same. 

Don’t lip-sync. Go make a difference. Always Run by faith!

(inspired by a conversation with my friend Steve Place)