“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’ ” (Luke 21:1-4).
What does God think about our financial giving? Since He created the world and all that is in it, does not everything in it belong to Him anyway? Why then does He command us to give (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7)? God is concerned about our giving because it reflects our faith in Him.
While Jesus was in Jerusalem shortly before his arrest, trial, and death, He was in the temple. Thoughts of His own impending death and what would become of His disciples as He left them must have weighed heavily on His mind. He was also spending a lot of His last hours on this earth doing some final teaching there in the temple at Jerusalem. What is interesting is in the midst of all these things He still took notice of people giving their gifts into the treasury at the temple.
As He observes this, He sees that the rich put in their gifts (Luke 21:1). Mark adds that the rich put in much (Mark 12:41). The rich had given the large donations. It was these contributions that made up the majority of the funds that flowed into the coffers at the temple. However, did Jesus “pat them on the back” for this? Actually, what Jesus noticed was not the amount of their giving, but the fact that they had “given out of their abundance” (Luke 21:4; Mark 12:44). They had given their leftovers.
More importantly, Jesus noticed a poor widow who’s giving probably went totally unobserved by everyone else in the temple. Jesus saw her put in her “two mites” (Luke 21:2) which make up a quadrans (Mark 12:42) whose value today would be only a fraction of a penny. How could what she put into the treasury really help the work of the Lord? It was so small, compared to the overall budget of the temple. Yet, Jesus says she “has put in more than all” (Luke 21:3). Why would He say this?
Widows in Jesus’ day were very destitute. There was no Social Security system on which that they could rely. In fact, Jesus mentions widows were often taken advantage of as their houses had been “devoured” by the scribes (Mark 12:40). This poor widow could have “played the victim” and said, “I cannot afford to give”, but she did not. Although she experienced poverty, she “put in all the livelihood that she had” (Luke 21:4; cf. Mark 12:44). She had taken the monies that were essential to her earthly survival and given them to God.
Why did she do this? Did she not know that she needed some money to survive for her earthly existence? She knew she needed God more than money. She knew that her dependence on God was more essential than her dependence on finances. She placed her faith in God’s ability to sustain her. Jesus took notice of this widow because He loves to see when people place their faith in God!
God is not concerned with our giving because He needs the finances so churches can operate and meet budgets. God cares about our giving because it reflects our faith in Him and is indicative of the value we place upon having a relationship with Him. Today, I will consider my giving and honor God by not giving “out of my abundance”, but “out of my livelihood” as I place my faith in Him to sustain me on my earthly journey as I look forward to my heavenly home!
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).