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!!