Sunday, June 20, 2010



We come now to chapter 21 of Luke to a most familiar scene in the life of Jesus-the widow's mite. I've collected ancient Greek and Hebrew coins over the years. All of the coins are filled with meaning, but few more than the widow's mite. It is the least value of all of the coins of that time. Let's take a look:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

Remember the Pharisee and the publican whose prayers became the subject of one of Jesus' parables? Well, here is another comparison with the same ingredients-those who seemingly have it together and those who don't.

This time it is the comparison of the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury and the poor widow. There is known to be 13 trumpet-like receptacles in the Temple where people gave their gifts. If you were to give lots of coins, the clanging sound of the coins in that receptacle would be loud. There was no maximum cap placed on how much you could give, but there was a minimum and that was precisely what she gave. It amounted to less than our pennies today.

Jesus' comments regarding her gift are revealing in many ways. First, Jesus says that with her gift of two coins she gave more than all of the others. Second, Jesus says the others gave out of their wealth; she gave out of her poverty and gave all she had to live on.

Three observations come to mind for me here: FIRST-The gift of the widow must have been from her heart. She is a faith-giver. She doesn't have any guarantee where her next meal or next day's wages will come from. She must believe that God will be faithful to take care of her. It seems we have lost this sense of giving to God and His Kingdom, and it's because we have lost that sense of ruthless trust.

It's also true that the widow's actions speak of what is called sacrificial giving. She gave to the point of giving up a meal or something else. She gave sacrificially. Jesus is impressed with what she did and how she did it.

SECOND-The proportion of her giving impressed Jesus. According to Jesus the widow gave more than all the rest. The widow was a proportional giver. Remember what Jesus taught earlier in Luke 12? "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." We are also told to give as we are prospered. I believe God holds us accountable for the proportion we give. And, you can be encouraged that giving a very little still matters to God as long as it's proportional.

THIRD-When you give out of your wealth, it's easy to view your giving as another bill to be paid without it ever passing through your heart.

The challenge here is to re-evaluate your own giving. Certainly it's not to be a show for anyone. Three questions are obvious here: 1. Are you giving by faith? 2. Are you giving sacrificially? 3. Are you giving out of your wealth, paying another bill, or are you giving from your heart response to God?

ONE MORE THING: Your regular giving or "tithing" has little to do with some project or a special pledge. Your giving is to be regular, giving as you are prospered, giving to the needs of believers and giving into the treasury of the local fellowship where you are being taught or spiritually nurtured.

When you give in this way, God will bless your heart and bless your life in a special way. Give like the others in the story and you may end up resenting that you gave anything at all.

For years I have loved the saying, "God loves a cheerful giver and He also accepteth from a grouch." Whether you are cheerful or a little grouchy about it, make it a discipline to be a giver. You will receive the most out of it, for sure.