Tag Archives: a poor widow

WHOSE PERSPECTIVE COUNTS

WHOSE PERSPECTIVE COUNTS

“Just then He looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then He saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, ‘The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford — she gave her all.'” Luke 21:1-4 (The Message).

He noticed! Isn’t that just like God?

I don’t think Jesus was sitting near the temple treasuryspecifically watching and judging people as they dropped in their offerings. He just happened to notice an obviously poor woman, mingling with the rich people, giving her gift as they put their offerings in the collection box.

Why did she stand out among the crowd? Did her threadbare clothing give her away? Was she wearing widow’s garb? The wealthy people would have dressed accordingly, and she would not have blended in with them. Perhaps she attracted Jesus’ attention because His heart was always for the underdog.

In the Sermon on the Mount, He has spoken out against the practice of the ‘hypocrites’ who gave their money in such a way that they wanted to attract attention to their ‘generosity’. The collection boxes were trumpet-shaped containers which prevented would-be thieves from helping themselves because the base was too narrow to get their hands in. If a person wanted to be noticed, he would toss his coins into the funnel so that it would make a ringing sound, hence the saying, ‘Don’t blow your own trumpet.’

Amid the ostentation of the rich, this poor widow slipped in and unobtrusively dropped in her two small coins, the smalled denomination in their currency. And Jesus noticed! Once again His comment puts our ‘generosity’ into God’s perspective which differs so much from our own. He noticed, not how much she gave, but how much she had left.

Of course, that should not put us on a guilt trip. God is realisitic. He does not expect us to give our entire livelihood away. What would be the point of that? But He does hold us accountable as stewards of what He has entrusted to us. The difference between the attitude of God’s people and the people who refuse to acknowledge Him should be, but is not always, that we are guided by God’s requirements and not by greed. He gives generously so that we will share our resources with others.

The first thought that comes to me is that this widow’s generosity was prompted by her identity with poor people. As a widow, if she had no family to support her, she was dependent on the generosity of others. She knew what it felt like to depend on others for her livelihood. She also knew what it was like to have nothing. Her two little coins were not much, but it was all she had to share with others.

Secondly, to give all she had meant that she had faith in God to supply her need, risking, everything on the faithfulness of God. That introduces another dimension to our responsibility to obey God — faith, which is spelt r-i-s-k. It is not difficult to take faith-risks in other areas of our lives but in the money category…that’s different!

This little woman caught Jesus’ attention because her action lined right up with God’s perspective. He did not see her as a poor nobody because of her appearance or her station in life. He saw her as great in God’s kingdom because she understood, believed and put into practice God’s will, and God always responds to obedience.

God works, not by giving to us according to our need but by meeting our need when we take care of the needs of others. When we give, we create a current that brings God’s supply to us through the generosity of the others. That’s God’s wisdom!!

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – HE NOTICED HER!

HE NOTICED HER!

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.” Mark 12:41-44

Why was this incident recorded here, in the centre of Jesus’ warning against people honouring the false pride of the religion scholars? They expected to receive accolades because their “knowledge” had puffed them up. By contrast, this poor widow did something from her heart because she did not expect to be noticed. Amazing how often Jesus brought into the limelight the unnoticed ones because they acted from the heart and for God rather than for man’s attention and praise!

In this situation, Jesus shows us how God evaluates our generosity, not by what we give but by what we have left over. In this case the widow gave all – she had nothing left over for herself. Would the Father have left her with nothing? I doubt it. She had created a current with her two small coins that would surely have brought back to her the abundance of God‘s supply. Who knows but Jesus Himself would have instructed His disciples to put money into her hands?

What is the point of this story in this context? Jesus warned His disciples not to admire the ones with knowledge simply because they had knowledge. They were using their knowledge to gain attention and admiration from men. Yes, God noticed them, but with disdain because of their self-centredness. Jesus instead drew His disciples’ attention to the one person who had no reason for position or prestige. She was a nameless widow; she was a woman and she was poor, yet her being and behaviour had more value to God than those with knowledge. She, not they, reflected the heart of God because of her generosity.

God is pleased with humility that acts out of reverence and love for Him rather than with an eye to the admiration of the people who really don’t matter anyway. God is also pleased with faith that obeys Him and leaves the outcome to Him. If we do what He tells us to, He will do what He has promised.