“Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
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. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44, New Living Translation
“God judges what we give by what we keep.”
Jesus has a whole different way of counting. He sat, and waited, and watched. Lots and lots of money was being dropped into the box. The rich actually hired ‘criers’ to proceed them. They shouted out to prepare the crowds in the Temple for their generous offerings. Great effort was made to choreograph their procession when the Temple would be crowded. (I think some Churches might allow this, if only to increase the offering.)
But I’d like to think the best of these rich ‘fat cats.’ I want to somehow believe that they didn’t have ulterior motives. But, knowing the heart of man, I strongly suspect these ‘givers’ intended to get as much ‘PR mileage’ as they could.
When we focus on the widow we find we pretty much dismiss her offering. To put it in perspective, a laborer would work all day for a denarius. This widow gave just 1/164th of that. And certainly without the fanfare that these pharisees and scribes created.
Jesus is sitting, and watching very near to the offering box. He is impressed with this widow, and her scanty contribution. But He looks at each heart, of each giver. He puts a value on each one. The size of the gift is not at all the issue here. It is the dimension of the sacrifice. She was dropping in everything she had. All of it, without hesitation or negotiation.
As we are His disciples, this particular lesson must be learned. And, indeed, it is learnable. If it seems too hard to emulate we need to deal with hard issues. Like fear, doubt and pride. And there is nothing quite like ‘sacrificial giving” to penetrate our stony hearts.
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
kyrie eleison, Bryan(Lord, have mercy on us)