Read MARK 12:41–44
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
New International Version (NIV)
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“God measures our giving, not by its amount, but by our means and by the spirit in which we give. In his sight the greatest gift is that which costs the giver most” (A. M. Hunter, 1906–1991).
In yesterday’s reading we were introduced to the vulnerability of widowhood, particularly in exposure to the religious cranks of this world (Mark 12:40). Widowhood can also carry considerable financial vulnerability, particularly without the safety net of a welfare check. Such vulnerability could be a recipe for withdrawal, self-pity and even bitterness, but none of these are inevitable. We can choose our responses rather than allowing circumstances to dictate them.
Jesus holds up the example of a widow who, refusing to be overwhelmed by her state, determines to look beyond herself and to give her all to God. We might consider her irresponsible in her giving. What is she going to do now that she has given away the paltry sum that was “all she had to live on” (44)? It is not a question that worries the rich, who throw in their money and never miss it. Like many of us, they do so confident that there is plenty in reserve for their daily needs. She is commended because she exhibits the seeking of God’s kingdom above everything else. Her safety net is her heavenly Father, who knows her needs; tomorrow can be left to worry about itself (Matt. 6:33,34). She risks further vulnerability for the sake of the kingdom.
We tend to laud those with big bucks. Major donors, even if they eschew publicity, can receive special treatment and their monetary gift can carry undue influence with it. While applauding generosity (after all, rich people could choose to spend their money on another cruise, or car or condominium) the values of the kingdom force us to search our hearts about where our trust lies. Are we seeking the kingdom as a priority? There’s no doubt about the answer in the widow’s case.
How is God calling you to respond to this story? In what ways should you be reviewing your giving; bringing your financial worries to God; changing your attitude towards the poor?