This particular teaching point Jesus made with His disciples took me a while to embrace and in fact, if I am honest, I am still in the process of embracing more fully.
As with many of the Jesus encounters we interact with, the more time we spend in them, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to our inner most places, the more layers He peels away for us to come to a deeper understanding and a deeper, more intimate knowing of our Beloved’s heart and desires for us.
Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents…. Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on. Mark 12:41-44
This particular teaching point Jesus made with His disciples took me a while to embrace and in fact, if I am honest, I am still in the process of embracing more fully. As with many of the Jesus encounters we interact with, the more time we spend in them, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to our inner most places, the more layers He peels away for us to come to a deeper understanding and a deeper, more intimate knowing of our Beloved’s heart and desires for us.
I came to Christ later in life but have memories of attending church with my beloved Bubba (Slovak gramma) as a small child. I recall her handing me a few coins to put into the offering plate as it came by. I do recall the sense of joy I felt as they dropped onto the plate however, no real teaching on the significance of giving and the heart behind it was really ever conveyed to me. I have come to believe that childlike attitude is sadly prevalent in our churches even know. Happy to throw a few coins in the offering as it passes by but really unclear as to what God is inviting us to partake in as we toss in what we think we can afford that week. We miss the deep spiritual lessons about giving, finance, value, generosity, and true wealth that come with trusting God for our provision and the blessings that come from that obedience. Just to be clear by blessings, I am not referring to the “Name it Claim it” prosperity gospel preached in the last number of years. I am speaking of the blessing of knowing in the deepest places of our souls the Love, Care, and Provision that God intends for each of us as we begin to trust Him more and more with our resources.
When Neil and I came to Christ, we were in a financial mess. We regularly had way more money than month and five little ones to care for. The idea of giving something to God was a foreign concept that was beyond our comprehension. Our personal needs were so great and there was no left overs to give to God, not even a tithe’s worth. We kept believing that if we just worked harder and made more money, then we could afford to give and be generous. It was not until we learned that EVERYTHING is a gift from God to be stewarded even our hard-earned money and that we were to give to God our First fruits, not the leftovers of which there was rarely any. I don’t know how it worked but it did. On paper it never made sense but as we trusted God more and more with our cold hard cash, the money began to outlast the month. It was at this juncture God began teaching us about sacrificial giving.
I recall a couple recent conversations that surprised me. One was from a friend that stated, I am retired now and happy to give God my time as long as it doesn’t impede with my fun” another stated” Sacrificial giving, who ever does that?”!! I was taken a back!! I had assumed longtime Christians were aware and practicing this concept of sacrificial giving as a regular form of worship. Apparently, I was mistaken as I am sure our missionaries, elders, and pastors would attest to as they try to meet budget demands of providing care for their flock and carrying out Kingdom work locally and around the globe.
This is the message of the Widow’s mite and what it represents…her all, her everything. By giving those two tiny coins, as insignificant as they were in the eyes of the disciples who were the listening audience of Jesus that day, she was saying to God that she would withhold nothing from him and trust Him for everything, her sole existence in fact.
Take a wider look at how this teaching point is positioned. It comes just after Jesus’s not so quiet rebuff of the scribes, teachers of the law, “while all the people were listening… Beware …they devour widows houses” Parallel verse Luke 20:45-47NIV. NLT puts it this way 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. The very ones entrusted to care for the widows and marginalized within their communities were actually cheating and devouring the little bit these folks had.
It is to these coffers this widow freely gave all she had even though she or someone she knew had probably been the recipient of this exploitation by this group of “leaders”. Even though she herself had experienced great loss of a husband who would provide and care for her, she freely gave. Even though she may have thought her gift was small and insignificant, she freely gave. This profound act is what sanctified her offering and made it Holy and pleasing to Jesus.
The disciples missed the depth of what Jesus was trying to communicate to them. Upon leaving the temple, the disciples are star struck at the opulence of the temple and commented on the grandeur and magnificence of the building, the beautiful stones and gifts that adorned the temple. Jesus’ response is surprisingly shocking. He predicts the coming destruction of the Temple and all its finery. I am like that too sometimes; I get distracted by the glimmer of gold and the large impressive gifts. It is not that God doesn’t approve of generous large gifts and beautiful artwork dedicated to Him. Just look at the very detailed instructions He gave in creating the Tabernacle the Israelites pack around in their wilderness wanderings, He actually is inviting us to partake in something deeper and more significant in our lives and the lives of the church.
Jesus is not comparing poor vs rich but rather comparing the heart of the widow and those who had taken advantage of widows. Jesus was calling attention to the corrupt system where those who were entrusted to care for people such as the widow were instead placing heavy burdens upon them, walking around in finery and pretentiousness. He was calling for justice and mercy to prevail, to give with the right heart, to give generously and sacrificially just as He gave His all to redeem us. Like the widow, Jesus held nothing back from the Father…we are the beneficiaries of His incredible sacrificial gift of his life even today.
Really, it all comes down to trusting and knowing where our provision comes from. The story of the Widow’s mite is an invitation to allow our thinking to be challenged and our hearts to be changed. Jesus fully knows the spiritual value of giving, especially when it costs us something. True discipleship does come at a personal cost even when all we have to give may be two tiny insignificant coins that don’t add up to much but to us represent our very existence…dare to ask yourself: “What are my two mites, and where is the invitation to give them?” Give that thing generously, secretly to God whatever plate He would have you drop those coins into.
The widow’s offering was evidence of God’s working in her heart to give to the establishment that represented hardship in her life. When she gave, it wasn’t really to the temple and its pompous leaders, it was to her Lord and King. The One who would always be a husband and caretaker to her, that is why her gift was so significant.
If we are honest, we to are all widowed or destitute in our own ways. We are easily impressed by the glitz and glam of our society… God doesn’t want or need our money; He wants our hearts. If our money gets in the way of that then we seriously need to spend time with the Spirit and stories like these and ask Him to speak to our innermost places to be transformed and embrace the invitation to a deeper more intimate life with Him, the Lover of our souls.