READ Mark 12:35-44
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions ”
On January 12, 2010, the people of Haiti were in dire straits as a result of a major earthquake that rocked their nation. As often happens in a tragedy like this, the American people responded to the Haitian crisis with open hearts and open wallets. Many stars gave substantial personal gifts. For example, Sandra Bullock gave a million dollars to the cause.Dozens of major corporations followed suit. Experts say that the total amount of charitable giving to Haiti exceeded the previous record of moneydonatedto hurricane relief in the United States, totaling several billion dollars.
Such generosity is laudable and speaks well of the American character. But it also can leave many of us feeling as if we don’t really matter. In times of tragedy, our own gifts can sometimes feel insubstantial. We know,in principle, that they make some small differences. And we know,in principle, that many small gifts add up to something substantial. But,when we see headlines celebrating huge contributions, our own contributions can feel tiny and virtually inconsequential.
If you are giving to God’swork, whether in support of your local church or disaster relief or mission efforts in far away places, or you name it, Mark 12:41-44 offers a strong word of encouragement. As Jesus watched people giving their benevolences to the Temple ministry, he saw rich people making a show of their generosity. They gave big gifts in a big way so people would take notice.But then,by way of contrast, “a poorwidowcame and dropped in two small coins” (12:42). The King James Version renders this memorably, “she threwin two mites, which make a farthing.”
In actual value, the widow’s gift was tiny. But Jesus saw it from a different perspective: “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” Jesus esteemed, not the monetary value of her gift, but its relative value and what that meant. The poorwidow gave sacrificially, reflecting her extraordinary commitment to the Lord. Thus, in effect, she gave even more than the rich people.
No matter our means, we are all called to give generously, even sacrificially, to the work of God. Some of us with great means will give numerically great gifts. Those of us with lesser means will give less in an absolute sense. But God sees the true measure of our generosity. So, no matter how much you might have, let the example of the widow and her “mites” be an encouragement to you today to open your heart and your wallet to the Lord and his ministry.
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QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you feel about your own giving? Are you generous with what God has given you? Why or why not? How do you respond to the example of the widow and her “mites”?
PRAYER: O Lord, I know that,when compared to all of the people on this earth, I am among the wealthy. How I thank you for the financial blessings you have given me!
Yet there are times when it seems as if my charitable contributions make such a small difference when compared with rich stars and giant corporations. When I feel inconsequential, I am inclined to hang onto what I have ratherthan sharing it. Forgive me, Lord,when I am not a faithful steward of the resources you have entrusted to me.
Thank you for the example of the widow and her “mites.” May she inspire me to give as I am able. Help me, Lord, to know what it means for me to give generously and sacrificially.