Luke 21 records a beautiful story: “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 NKJV)
Here we have a widow. And not just a woman who had lost her husband, but a “poor widow”. We see this “poor widow” giving two small coins, or “mites”, and we hear Jesus praising her for her gift.
Interestingly, we don’t see Jesus praising the rich for their gifts. In fact, we almost hear an admonition: “for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God…” Yet this tiny, seemingly insignificant gift receives Jesus’ full praise: “…this poor widow has put in more than all…” Why? Jesus tells us this Himself: “…she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
This text has been long used to encourage Christians to pay their tithes and offerings. It is often pulled out when someone feels they are too poor to be able to give money to the Lord, and it is used as a motivator. It is also often quoted as part of the prosperity doctrine: The more we give of what we have to the Lord, the more He will be pleased and will bless us!
I do not believe, however, that this is the only point of the story. As a matter of fact, the story doesn’t actually mention that the poor widow will be blessed. It only says that she put in more than anyone else! The point is not that we will be blessed for giving more; rather, that gifts from our heart are more meaningful to God than any other kind. When we give everything we possibly can, it not only shows our tender hearts for the Lord, but it also shows that we are not afraid to step out in faith. It shows that we aren’t giving to get more; but that we are giving out of the love and faith in our hearts!
Is this just talking about monetary gifts here?
Although the example is of a monetary gift, I don’t think we should limit the meaning of this verse to mere donations of money. We are asked to give. Period. This includes our resources, yes; but it also includes our time and our talents. In fact, I clearly saw this principle in action just a few days ago. I received an email from a dear friend who has no income and significant health problems, including problems with vision, speech, fine motor skills, etc. After a life of caring for others, this person now requires total care himself. He has often communicated that he feels all purpose has been taken away from life. Yesterday, however, the message was different. He stated that he would continue to pray for the needs of other people for as long as there was breath in his lungs.
My friend has found his purpose.
Why the change of heart? Because my friend realized something significant: When we give all that we can, no matter how small, it is enough!
If you are not one who gives back to the Lord, what is your reason? If you are concerned that your gift would be too small for it to make a difference, consider the poor widow, along with my friend. Every gift to the Lord is appreciated and used. You never know when one small prayer will make a kingdom difference.
And if you are someone who routinely gives back to the Lord, what kind of a giver are you? Do you give out of your abundance? Or do you, like the poor widow and my friend, give all that you have?
The Lord is returning, and it will be soon. The lost are all around us. They don’t know the Lord, and when He returns, it will be too late. I urge you to spend some time in prayer today, asking God how you can give. Maybe God will require a monetary gift. Or maybe He wants you to cook dinner for your neighbour. Or perhaps He is calling you to encourage the older couple around the block or to give someone a ride to the doctor. Whatever it is you have, no matter how small, it will make a kingdom difference. But only if you give it!
And just one parting thought about those dinners and words of encouragement and prayers… Let’s always remember to give our “cup of water” in Jesus’ name… (“For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Mark 9:41 NKJV)!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries.