Mark 12:41-44 – 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. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
When I played Little League baseball, one of the encouragements my mother used to shout (much to my embarrassment) was, “Give it your all!” We often hear about athletes “giving 110 percent” on the field. Sometimes the church even implores us to “give until it feels good” because, as we are often reminded on Stewardship Sunday, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
But in all of those cases, the completeness of the giving is only temporary. The athlete rests and recuperates, the church member’s bank account replenishes, and Mom always rewarded my effort with an ice cream cone.
In contrast, the widow gave her all without any foreseeable restitution. The rich gave large amounts, then rode home on their BMW camels to the swanky suburbs of
Jerusalem. When the widow left the temple after dropping her last two coins in the offering plate, she probably didn’t know where her next meal would come from.
She is often lifted up as the model of giving, but in reality, she is the model for financial irresponsibility. Debt consolidation companies would have a field day with her! Who gives everything they have without some sort of backup plan – and to the church, no less! Could there be a less sound investment?
In our risk-averse culture, we are persuaded to horde our resources, lest we face the situation of needing them and not having them. But in reality, most of us live with just the opposite: we have them, but we really don’t need them. Jesus calls us to give them away, to restore a sense of balance to our society where the rich do indeed only get richer.
But the widow gives more than just her money; she gives herself. She puts her future into the hands of God, trusting that provision will be made. Are we more likely to trust God or Charles Schwab? Are we banking on Jesus Christ, or only banking with Smith Barney? Christ calls us to give all of ourselves to the work of the kingdom. If we make that commitment, the rest will fall in line: “For where your treasure is, there your heart is, also” (Matthew 6:21).
Holy God, I acknowledge that everything I have comes from You. Help me move from closed fists to open hands as I strive to be a good steward of all my resources, most especially the life with which you have blessed me. May the way I live and the choices I make bring You glory. Amen.