I would venture to say that most hearers or readers think that this Gospel passage is only about the widow or about how honorable the poor are for being generous. If we do, we’re missing the point. Of course we cannot simply look at the story of the widow: (having lost her spouse – possibly at a young age given men’s’ life expectancy then – she might have had no children; now she’s considered a burden to both her parents and her in-laws.
Jesus commended her giving, in contrast to that of the scribes, because she gave everything she had! She could have kept one of those coins for herself, but she willingly gave everything she had to Jesus. That widow could never have known what her gift would accomplish. She walked into the Temple, ignored by the rich, the religious and those caught up in the celebrity worship of the day. She walked in with her little gift and she gave it without fanfare – no trumpet blare, no applause. Everything that poor woman had earned for her own needs was given willingly to the Lord. She is an example of extravagant giving!
The rich gave, too. Some came in with great fanfare, standing back and tossing in their gift for the greatest effect. Others gave with a frown on their face, holding onto their coins as tightly as they could to the very last second. Others probably stopped to make sure that everyone was watching them as they gave their offerings. They wanted to be recognized, honored and in control – they wanted a say in everything. People like that are dangerous, divisive people! They are religious fools.
They received their applause and they walked proudly away. This poor widow gave her “two cents” and walked away, but her gift is still giving today. How many people have been challenged to go ahead and give their little because of this woman’s example?
Why would she bother to give such an insignificant gift? Her two cents among the thousands of dollars given by the wealthy seems so small. Why bother? This little lady is everything the religious scribes and the rich hypocrites were not. Why would she bother to give such an insignificant gift?
It’s her attitude that speaks volumes: humble, unassuming, unpretentious. One’s attitude makes all the difference. How we give is far more important than what we give! Reminds me of a definition I heard many moon ago of the difference between cooperation and collaboration. Cooperation is when all the stakeholders put their money on the table; collaboration happens when they put their hands in their laps.
In her quiet giving she was preaching a powerful sermon. Hear her as she humbly explains:
- I give because God loves me and I love in return
- I give because I trust God
- I give because God has given to me
Three other lessons we might glean:
- God will do great things with our small offerings –We do not know what any others giver put in the basket that week in the temple. But, after over 2,000 years the tiny gift of that widow has been multiplied into untold billions as people have been motivated to give out of their own poverty.
- The Lord will settle His accounts one day – The scribes and the wealthy men there that day had their reward then and there – they blew their own trumpets – they got public attention and admiration. This widow will receive hers later! Do what you do for God – just keep it simple and silent. Be honest: have you ever taken credit for a gift NOT given … failed to contribute to a collection (like we do for Daystar, the Heritage Christmas or AIM) but smiled as if you had contributed when the community is praised for its generosity?
- God does not want our money; He wants us – He wants our love and our devotion and when He has that, He has everything else that we possess. When God has us, He has our pocketbooks.
So, in summary, the important lesson we might take from this story is: that real giving is sacrificial and reckless. How much of your personal monthly allowance do you dedicate to doing good for someone else? Do you contribute at the end of the month if you have something left over? Or do you automatically designate 10% of your allowance to a cause each month?
If you remember nothing else, remember this: the attitude of your heart in giving makes all the difference. How we give is far more important than what we give!