Money reveals the state of our heart as few other things can. Jesus said, “…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Money speaks. It tells us where our hearts are. What does your use of money say about you?
The last week of Jesus’ life, during His last volunteer visit to the Temple, He witnessed a scene that impressed Him…
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)
Jesus watched people as they gave. But it doesn’t say He saw ‘what’ they gave but ‘how’ they gave. Jesus did not deny that the rich gave large sums of money. Here merely said that the widow gave more. Theirs were only contributions, generous though they might be. Hers was a total sacrifice.
This commentary on giving works as a double-sword. It encourages those who have very little to give and it is an exhortation to those who have much. So, for all of us, I discovered three observations…
The posture of our heart makes all the difference. Our offering to God is not a bill that must be paid. When I write a check to the IRS, the IRS doesn’t care if I give willingly or grudgingly. Not so with the Lord. Paul reminds us, “If I give all I possess… but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). But if I give a penny with the widow’s heart, it is great gain to me and to God.
God is the great equalizer. There is no advantage of being rich or poor, educated or ignorant, famous or unknown. We all stand equal in God’s sight. He looks at our heart.
There is no evidence that the woman ever knew that Jesus was watching her, or she knew what Jesus thought of her gift, or that she ever became a prosperous woman in this life. It would be nice to know what happened to her after this. Was she blessed with more? Or did she go home and remain in poverty. But one thing is sure – at the judgment, God will square His accounts.
God can do great things with tiny offerings. These two coins equaled less than one cent, given quietly with the widow’s motive, have produced more for the Kingdom in the last 2,000 years than all other gifts presented that Passover week. This unnamed woman has been handed down by the New Testament and Jesus, as a pattern of generosity – and she gave less than a penny. It is not the portion but the proportion that is important.
The challenge of sacrificial giving for us all. There is something about this woman’s sacrifice that makes me feel guilty. Nothing in the passage tells us she is an example of giving. We are not told to give like her. There isn’t a hint of our obligation to give. But her great sacrifice challenges my thinking of giving.
Here, Jesus admired her generous and sacrificial giving. As believers, we should consider increasing our giving – whether money, time or talents – to a point beyond convenience or safety.
She gave all she had. At times, real giving must be sacrificial. At times real giving has a certain recklessness in it. She believed that God would not fail her and proved her belief. Most of us would like to think that from time to time we please God by giving until it really hurts. But how many of us would consider giving until it is gone?
What if God measured our giving, not by what we give, but by what we keep for ourselves? The widow kept nothing, but gave both coins, all that she had.
W. Tozer: “Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done but by how much I could have done! In God’s sight, my giving is measured not by how much I have given but how much I have left after I made my gift. Not by its size is my gift judged, but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives al all until he has given all! No man gives anything acceptable until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice.”