And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, 'Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.' Mark 12:41-44
If anyone else had even noticed the gift of this poverty-stricken woman I doubt they would have described it as Jesus had. Now most of us may have heard this story, but somehow I think we still don't get it. Why? Because we think it's talking about the giving of MONEY. But is that what Jesus had observed? And is that the lesson He was trying to get across to His disciples?
IT'S NOT ABOUT MONEY!
Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation. Mark 12:38-40
Consider the above and notice how it immediately preceded the scene of the widow's gift. Do you think it may have been fresh on their minds when He called His followers attention to it? The fact is that everything Jesus said and did conflicted with their ingrained perceptions of reality. What man calls money holds no value in the eyes of God because it is EMBEDDED into the concept of worth. Oh, you can try real hard to balance the financial perceptions of man and God, but it CAN'T be done, because they are fundamentally in conflict with each other.
What did Jesus observe? Man's measuring system of money not only cannot estimate true worth, it reinforces the false concept of worth.
Read the story, and put yourself into it - you may discover that you've already witnessed this conflict of value in your own experience. For you know full well that one's love for God has been judged countless times by the amount put into the basket (or offering plate). It is the reason behind the public ritual of The Offering. It is also the COMFORT found in the tithe. Comfort, I say? Oh, yeah! For in the flesh's attempt to define godliness we have latched on to the DIVINE percentage figure by which we might measure our love and dedication to God. You see, godliness can be judged by simple math! And we use the Bible to support our bankrupt theories.
But Jesus called attention to a gift that ranked so low on the monetary scale that it would have been considered an INSULT to God compared to the more valuable gifts of the important people. The point is that her gift didn't even rate. And yet Jesus boldly stated that this widow's gift of two copper coins was GREATER than all the money given by the wealthy. And how did Jesus come to this conclusion? The rich gave out of their stockpiles, while the woman gave of her very life!
And this brings me back to the reality of life. For what is our life? Jesus also said,
for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessionsLuke 12:15
So ... what is your life? If your answer leads you to EITHER despair and confusion, OR to an inflated sense of your own worth, you are considering the wrong concept of life! For true life is found ONLY in Christ. Whose life is it anyway? :)
I would love to hear from you concerning the subject of giving, but do me a very big favor: PLEASE don't send me any Mother Teresa kind of stories. Why not? Because they give an illusion of reality without having any real effect on your life. Tell me, instead, about YOU and YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES or YOUR PERSONAL STRUGGLES. A story about someone you don't know can easily be a cop-out, but a real-life story about YOU will be valuable to all who hear it!!
I will continue with more thoughts on Giving in the next Shoveletter ... look for it! :)