Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.” Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:38-44)
Relate: I’ve always heard the story of the Widow’s Mite from the context of giving, but what if it really goes much deeper than that? Work with me here:
1) There are no adjectives or adverbs here. Jesus says nothing to commend the widow for her giving nor does he say anything about how she felt regarding her gift. He merely relates facts he observes.
2) If this was merely about giving, Jesus could have used a “poor man” or even a “poor woman”. The fact that he specifically uses a “poor widow” right here, right now brings us to…
3) This illustration happens right after Jesus warns us against the teachers of the law who pretend to be religious then turn around and oppress the poor. It is almost as if the poor widow we view in reality (vs 42) mirrors the hypothetical poor widow Jesus used as example (vs 40). What if that widow wasn’t hypothetical but rather one and the same as this woman giving?
React: I’ve been tempted, even recently to think to God, “I’ve been tithing so You have to bless me.” Or “how can You let this financial situation happen when i have been so faithful in giving to You?” It is true that you cannot out give God. This poor widow, at the cost of a few cents has earned eternal fame to the point that we are still talking about her today. How many of her neighbors could say that? Yet, at the same time in context, she is having her home devoured. While she is placing her offering in the plate, bank is foreclosing on her home and there is nothing in this scripture to say that her gift will somehow prevent that.
Giving my tithe isn’t a religious thing. It is a debt I owe to God that I am required to pay back. It is obedience. I don’t earn any brownie points with the big man for doing it. On the flip side, giving to support the child I sponsor through World Vision is most definitely is a religious thing. So is you being late to work to help the lady on the side of the road with her flat tire. So is going in to teach English to refugee kids without getting paid a dime to do so. So is Scout spending time with Mrs Dubose (in To Kill A Mockingbird). So is… you fill in the blank. True religion is avoiding evil and helping the widows and orphans in their distress. It has nothing to do with big cathedrals, Latin, and beautiful artwork. It also has nothing at all to do with how much I put in the offering plate or even how big of a sacrifice it was for me to put it there.
Help me to give everything I have to give. Even more help me to realize that doing so has nothing at all to do with money. Help me to give my time, my talents, my love, my prayers, my words, my money, my passion to those who so desperately need for You to intervene in their lives. Let everything I have be used for others. Pour me out.