"And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which makes a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ' Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.' "
I find this story to be so significant because it teaches us about giving. Jesus doesn't exalt the rich who wrote a big check to the church, because they probably wouldn't even notice the money leaving their bank account. (I modernized it a bit!) Instead, Jesus highlighted the poor widow- the woman with nothing. She gave not out of obligation, or because she had extra to give, she gave because her heart loved Jesus and the church and she gave out of reverence and love for it. How many of you, first of all, tithe? (Tithing, I believe, is a minimum of 10% to the local church.) For how many of you is that a sacrifice? For how many of you even notice that you wrote that check or gave that amount? I don't believe this passage is commanding us to give all that we have like the widow, however, I do believe it challenges us to look at how much we give in comparison to all that we have. If you write a check and barely notice that money has been given, I challenge you to ask God, should I give more? In today's society especially, we see money as ours- as a means to gain more earthly things- the more you receive the more you can buy. I challenge you to change your thinking (including my own!) What if we had the view that the more we receive, the more we give? I wholeheartedly believe that the money we receive through working, is provided solely by God, and that at any given time, it can all be taken away. I believe that God commands us to steward His money wisely, and the first test of that is by reserving the first tenth of your gross income to God. God is not an Indian-giver, but I do believe He is testing our greed, our faith in Him and our obedience to His word. If He didn't give you the money to begin with, how could you tithe, spend or live the way you do? Honor Him first, and give Him His portion. Second, I believe that God gives us more so that we can bless others financially. Again, it can be a test. Honestly, if Joey made more money, there would be things I would want to "upgrade" in our lives... like eating at a nice restaurant once a month, going on a mini-vacation annually, buying a car 5 years old or so, etc. (I could go on...) But the test is in the heart. If God gives me more, will I hoard it to myself or be more generous? Over the last two years, and even more so in the last couple months that we've experienced generosity, I my heart has grown in desire to be a generous giver. That means, buying gifts for birthdays and just because's, but also to give when you see a need...even if that means buying someone a used car, or paying a month of their rent/mortgage. My heart swells up just thinking about the blessing it would be to me to anonymously give generously. With all my heart, I believe God wants us to be generous. I believe He provides more, so that we can change our way of living within reason and still maybe with sacrifices, but more so that He can provide through us.
The rich people that dropped in large amounts of monetary offerings didn't do so sacrificially- they did it because they could. If their hearts weren't turned to Jesus, and their paycheck had been low one month, do you think they still would have given as much? At all? The poor widow had nothing- in fact, Jesus said that what she had was all she had to live on. I honestly don't understand what she would have done that day to eat, but I do know that she trusted God to provide- something the rich people did not have to do in their abundance. God does provide abundance, but again, I think then we are also being called to sacrificially give.
I am challenging you today, to ask Jesus what He wants you to give. Are you giving sacrificially?