This week I want to share with you lessons from 3 widows in the Bible. The first is probably the most famous of the 3, so you’ve probably heard her story. Here it is again from Luke 21:1-4
“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
As someone who lives in the top 5% of wealth in the world I am humbled by this story. Not only when I read it in the Bible but when I hear it happening in our world today. Recently I read on Compassion’s blog about neighbours in poverty sharing the little food they have with those who did not earn any money today so they can’t feed their family even one meal for the day. That’s modern day giving from lack.
What can we learn from this widow?
- God was her priority – even though she only had two mites left she still gave it to God. Often those of us with much will give to God from our left over’s. Our tithes and offerings that we give to God, through our local church, will be the first thing we drop when we think finances are getting tough (not the cable TV, not eating out, not new shoes).
- She didn’t expect a ROI – This widow gave to God and didn’t expect a return on investment. Sometime we give to get, be it a tax refund, a pat on the back, even God’s blessing. Our intention, our heart is about the getting, not the giving. This widow’s heart was about the giving. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether this widow was blessed by God for her gift but God is no man’s debtor so I believe she was blessed, it’s just wasn’t her reason for giving.
- She didn’t make it a show – Sometimes people give to get fame and acclaim. They like everyone to know what they have donated. I’m sure some of the people who gave at the temple that day brought in big money bags, with jiggling coins, waiting for everyone’s attention before they ceremonially dropped their money in. This is like the movie star that gives a million dollars to charity because they know it’s cheap, positive publicity. This is like the person who gives a large donation to church youth camp but makes sure their company logo is on the bus. Giving is good, but I think we need to be quieter about it, not letting our left hand know what our right hand is giving. When we give like this God sees and He knows our heart and that’s all that matters. This widow would never have known that her small gift would make her famous and talked about for thousands of years to come.
- She gave everything she had – and held nothing back. I’ve heard Christians squabble over how much we should give to God, 10%, 22.5%, pre-tax, post-tax, exclusions for the unemployed or on government pensions. And these are Christians who live in the top 5% of wealth in the world. They don’t lack. Yet this widow gave all she had, she held nothing back. I think she’d put many Christians in the developed world to shame, as like the rich in Luke we give from our excess and hold much back from God.
Today I am challenged and humbled by this widow’s gift. How about you?
What lessons can you see in this widow’s story? Perhaps you’d like to share them with us in the comments below.
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