Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
In my travels, I’ve collected a variety coins. Some are large, others small. Some are all one metal, others are combinations of two or more. Some are still used, others have become extinct, not worth the cost of production. Compared with their more worthwhile bill counterparts, the coins seem useless, an extra weight to be lugged around. However, given the correct country, the currency is worthwhile. It may not be used to purchase something large, but it has worth.
The widow came with her two small copper coins. The woman was a widow, there’s no mention of family. No mention of a support system surrounding her, easing the burden, assisting her on the journey of her life. Instead, she comes alone, blending into the crowd of givers who made their way forward. Jesus noticed her. In spite of all who came to give, she stood out to Jesus. He drew attention to what seemed to be insignificant.
The widow gave two small copper coins. Not just small, very small. Seemingly insignificant, useless. Why give something that seems to not be of worth? I wonder what was going through her mind as she placed her offering into the temple treasury.
It isn’t until Jesus comments that the widow’s gift takes on a different significance. “But she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” Mark 12:44b It was not about the size of the coin, the size of the gift. It was about her heart. The level of generosity shown by this woman was massive. By giving, her next meal was more than uncertain. Given her status as a widow she was already one of the most vulnerable of her society and she gave it all.
I am not a widow. I have my needs provided for in ways that give me more comfort than I know what to do with. I look at this widow’s story and question my own generosity. How do I give? What motives sit in my heart as I give? Do I judge the worth of my gift on the size of it? Am I truly generous?
This Advent season, many giving opportunities will pass my way. I pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. That I will follow His leading and prompting as He asks me to be openhanded and open hearted to the needs and plights of others. And when I feel His nudge, I pray that I will respond straight away with great generosity.