S (Scripture): Luke 20:45 As all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment.”
21:1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”
O (Observation): Once again, Jesus takes the most simple, ordinary, hidden action, and turns it into a lesson of eternal significance.
This widow has no major source of income, since men were employed and women supported the family through acts of service. Without a husband, she would need to be supported by the community around her. So, as a widow, her sources of income would be severely restricted.
And if not for Jesus, her actions would go unnoticed. Jesus brings to light the impact that this widow’s actions have on faith and culture. Her faith is brought to light in the fact that her gift, though small in the eyes of her culture, was likely a large proportion of her finances. And being so, she would have to trust in the Lord that what she has is enough.
Indeed, Jesus is telling the disciples that:
“How we behave in the treasury is a direct reflection of the internal reality of our heart.”
(Laura Turner, Guest post on Rachel Held Evans’ blog: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/laura-turner-widows-mite, July 7 2012)
This point that Jesus makes lifts up the splendid show of faith on the part of the widow, but also cuts deep into the culture of the rich and the experts in the law. The widows’ actions and the actions of the experts in the law seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. The experts in the law seem to be doing what they’re doing for the show of it, whereas the window seems to be giving in the quiet of her heart – a place where no one is looking. But Jesus notices.
A (Application): What is our motivation to give: To have our name on a plaque? To give glory to God? To trust in God’s abundance?
We all have varied reasons for giving, and today, Jesus shows us a good way and a way to avoid. Why? To show us that the quiet way is just as valid a way as any, to give.
The abundance mindset is rare in our society. Average giving per churchgoer in the US has hovered somewhere around 2-3% of annual income. This is a far cry from the 10% lifted up in the Old Testament as a guideline for giving. Of course, the amount is not the focus, the focus is in giving as one is called and trusting that God will provide for our daily bread.
Our challenges are many in this country: the allure of a brand new car, hi tech gadgets, restaurants, movies, sports, and so much more vie for our attention and our finances. We tend to give to these things first, and give the leftovers to charity and church.
What Jesus lifts up today is the heart of the widow: she gives from what little she has. Is that how we operate? Do we give of our first fruits?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to trust in you as we step forward in faith. Amen.