GOD LOVES CHEERFUL GIVERS
Lord, teach us to be generous.
Read LUKE 21:1–4
The Widow’s Offering
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
Luke delights in mentioning the women who are role models of discipleship, including Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, the anointing woman, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary (and Martha), Mary mother of James, Tabitha, Mary mother of Mark, Damaris, Priscilla, among others (eg., Luke 8:3). Luke’s vision of mission includes women and men, side by side engaged together in God’s work. The woman in our story today is a splendid example.
Remembering that chapter divisions are not original, we should read this with Luke 20:45–47 in mind. The woman is one of those whose homes are being devoured by the Jewish leaders, yet she stands in contrast to the wealthy, who should be setting the example. She is unnamed, perhaps reflecting her seeming insignificance. Still, she is a beautiful example of one who loves God with her whole being. Her act of worship is simple and pure. She puts two small copper coins (lepta – 1/128 of a denarius), in one of the 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles for the temple offerings. Jesus takes note. The rich give out of their excess. She gives all she has out of her poverty. This does not devalue the rich donors – they have done well, but what she has done is better! She exemplifies seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). She calls to mind the churches of Macedonia who, despite extreme poverty, would give lavishly to the Jerusalem collection years later (Romans 15:25–33; 2 Corinthians 8:2).
This is one of the most challenging moments in Scripture. We must let it confront our idolatry – our consumption and materialism. The gospel calls us to resist this god that Jesus identifies as “money” (Matthew 6:24; “money” in NIV). Instead, we must serve God, living simply and contently while giving generously to his work. We who are rich must give more cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). The poor give what they can. We must confront injustice at every turn.
Pray for women in the world and in the church who experience injustice. Pray that we will give more with joy.
Lord, we understand that to whom more of this world’s goods are given, more will be required of them in the next.