Warren Buffet is one of the riches men in the world. He is worth $110 billion. However, like many rich men he is very generous. In 2021 he gave $4.1 billion to charities. I don’t make that much and I don’t give that much. I figured out that it would take me way over 100,000 years to make $110 billion and at my rate of giving it would take 400,000 years to give what he gave just last year.

Sometimes what we do and give seem so small. In comparison with others, our gifts are often overlooked. So we think:  Does it really matter what I do? It’s not much. I can’t do much so I might as well not do anything.

Jesus had days to live and He chose in Luke 21 to teach a lesson about giving. This story will encourage each of us whether we give much or little because our giving reveals the state of our heart as few other things can. Our giving can reveal a phony righteousness or it can reveal a humble, generous heart.

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. Truly I tell you, he said, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

What does Jesus teach about giving?

Jesus sees generous giving.

Jesus was watching people give to the Temple treasury. He noticed that the rich gave large sums of money. He also noticed that a widow gave 2 copper coins (mites). A mite was the smallest Roman coin worth about 1/8 of a cent. It was all she had. This reveals that though the woman was extremely poor, she had complete faith in God. Since she had 2 coins, she could have kept one. But she gave all she had.

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 more? Or did she go home and remain in poverty. But one thing is sure – at the judgment, God will square all His accounts.

Rather than this widow, I am often like a little girl I heard of. Her mother wanted to teach her a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church “Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. “Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.

Does God expect us to give everything we have? No. Jesus doesn’t make any comment that we should follow the widow’s example. The Biblical principle is that we give God a tithe of what we earn – 10%. That’s not really generous or sacrificial. Actually, it is giving God a tip for all He’s done for us. All we do after that is from a generous, grateful heart.

Jesus sees what we give. It’s an encouragement to those who give little that He notices. It’s not how much we give that counts. It’s our heart that is important. God can do great things with tiny offering. in fact, this woman’s little offering has been used for centuries as an example. This story also reminds those who give large amounts that God sees what we give and knows our hearts. He wants our hearts more than He wants our gifts. Make sure your heart is in your giving.

Jesus commends sacrificial giving.

The only commentary that Jesus makes about this widow is that she gave ‘more’ than the all the rich. They made contributions, generous though they be, while she made a total sacrifice.

When I was in high school our church had a missions conference and asked people to make a financial pledge to missions for the year. An elderly lady named Mary Keen made a promise that was more than she had coming in. She felt like that’s what God wanted her to do. Living on a fixed income she had an idea. It was Fall time so she began to go through her neighborhood with a rake and offered to rake leaves for a donation to missions. As she told her story, people began to make contributions and actually went out into their own yard and helped her rake the leaves. By the next week, she had accumulated her entire year’s pledge of missions giving. God can do more with our little than we can imagine.

There is something about this woman’s sacrifice that makes me feel guilty. Nothing 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. She not only gave until it hurts, she gave until it was all gone. As believers, we should consider increasing our giving – whether money, time or talents – to a point beyond convenience or safety.

AW Tozer once said, “Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done buy 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.

What can we do?

  • If you are not a Christian, accept Jesus as God’s gift to you.
  • If you are a Christian, start giving your tithe (10%), cut expenses so you can increase your giving, and help the poor. Those are a few examples to apply this lesson.

A little boy laid down on the stretcher beside his unconscious sister. The nurse inserted the needle that would give his sister the life giving blood transfusion she needed. The little boy was scared, but never whimpered. After a few moments, the color in his sister’s face returned to a rosy red, as she pulled out of the critical stage. The doctor checked his sister’s vitals and announced that she will be fine. The little brother breathed a sigh of relief knowing that his sister will be fine. He turned to the doctor and asked, “How long until I die?” The little boy thought that he had been asked to give all his blood to his sister, and that he would die in the process. He gae just the same. Expecting nothing in return, in fact, expecting that he would die, he was willing to do it. That is what pleases God. To give, sacrificially, without expecting something in return. That is the way Jesus gave His life.