Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on (21:1-4 NET)
We don’t know the name of this woman, but her simple act of faith was noticed by Jesus. She didn’t move a mountain, she didn’t heal the sick – she just gave everything she had. And seeing that, Jesus teaches us that it’s not how much you give, it’s how much you keep.
Jesus did not disparage the gifts of the rich; he simply pointed out that things were not necessarily as they seemed. Those who were giving much were giving out of their excess, but the one who gave the least had the least to give. The lesser gift was the greater, since it was the more costly to the giver.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said elsewhere, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Apparently, the poor have much to teach us, and not the least of those lessons is one on generosity. I find I’m only generous when I’m holding onto things loosely; if things start to mean more to me than people or God’s work among us, then I start to hold tightly to the funds that allow me to amass those things.
It’s interesting that those that are not generous are the ones that are most likely to be proud when they do give. Each of us that falls into that should look back at this poor widow and regain perspective. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” Jesus said, “so that your gift may be in secret.”
“And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”
Dear Jesus, give me a generous heart. Help me to recognize that all I have is from you. You have given me so much – a hope and a future, a life worth living. Help me to be a conduit of your grace, and a conduit of your resources, giving as freely as I have received — for your glory and my good.
From the archives. Originally published October 30, 2009.