41 Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. 42 One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. 43 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. 44 All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.”
We are told that the widow put in all of the money she had – 2 small coins. Those 2 coins were the lowest denomination of money at that time and together had the value of about 1/64 of a common laborer’s wage for a day. In today’s terms, if we look at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and multiply that by 8 hours, that total is $43.50. Divide that by 64 and it is .679 cents. We wonder how anything can be done with that small amount of money, but we have seen it in fundraisers when kids have penny wars between classrooms at school – pennies do add up!
That isn’t really the point of this story, but it is a good reminder to us that small things can add up to big things, so we should never underestimate anyone’s contributions. A smile – which costs nothing – can make someone’s entire day. The point of this story is that this woman gave from her heart and from her faith. Other people were giving so that they could make a show of it – dropping large amounts into the offering plate so that everyone could see and hear what was happening. Jesus made a point to say that this woman – a widow – often among the poorest members of society – gave quietly and in proportion the largest gift. She was not saying out loud to anyone that she would not have money to eat or anything like that, she just gave from her heart. That is what God wants us to do – give from our heart with faith, love, and generosity.
My husband’s aunt has always been incredibly generous. She always had more than enough food on hand when we went to visit, then she usually took us out or ordered more food. We never left her house without 2 or several boxes of things someone had pointed out as being nice. If you said that, she would just say, “well take it and enjoy it.” She opened her home to strangers who she treated like family. She respected children and animals. Our children have written essays about her generosity. She is now in a memory care unit, but she has always been a great example to us as a family about how to be generous and live a life that shows how Christ wants us to live. I once bought her a widow’s mite coin because she exemplified the widow’s spirit so well.
Does Jesus want us to give away our last 2 coins? Maybe – and if he does, he will show us the next step. Maybe he doesn’t, but maybe he does want us to examine what we do give and maybe change how much we give to whom. Maybe he wants us to pray about our motives for giving and see how those can change. Maybe there is another way he wants us to be generous – we won’t know unless we seek him.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
As Joe asked us on Sunday, think about those in your life who have taught you about giving and generosity. Is there some way you can honor that memory by in turn being generous?
Prayer: Generous God, thank you for all the gifts you have given us. Please show us ways to share what we have with others to further your kin(g)dom. Amen.