There is something very moving about the story in the gospel of the widow giving a few small coins into the treasury. In this story Mark wants to describe how Jesus reacted to the worship of the overtly religious and that of a poor widow woman. This story of honest generosity has been told down through the ages and has been used to illustrate the way God looks upon the gifts and the offerings we bring to his work in the world.
The lesson is simple, it is not the amount that matters it is the heart that brings the offering that matters. This is the same point that the writer of Genesis makes when relating the story of Cain and Abel and the offerings they were making to God. It is the heart that determines the generosity of the gift.
The widow gave out of her poverty and in doing so her offering would go further, she gave her all. Just as we learned earlier this week about the faithfulness of God towards the widow at Zarephath, so now we see that God is no one’s debtor. If we give willingly and generously to his work out of the resources we have we will discover the cruse of oil continues to supply our needs. But remember God looks on the motive of our giving. If we give to receive then we are not truly giving. We are investing to get something back. We must give out of honest gratitude.
If only the world could see this. It has been estimated that there is more than enough food and resources in the world to meet the needs of the world’s population. We need to find the best ways that will allow a more equitable distribution of its wealth. It starts when individuals make their honest contributions.
I really don’t have a problem giving,
I struggle with what I have left
Not because it is too little
I sometimes think
I’m left with too much
Show me how to trust you
Teach me how to give not out of guilt
But from a heart that has been set free to love and serve.
I’m saying yes
To the prophet
Yes to the beggar
But the thing is
There is still more left over.
38 As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’