Summary: See what a poor widow can teach us about what it means to give everything.
“The Mighty Mite”
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Luke 21. We’ll be looking at verses 1-4, and I see this passage much like the PIP on many of the newer televisions out today. How many of you have seen the “picture-in-a-picture” technology? It lets you view two things on the same screen. That’s kind of what’s going on here – two things are happening (disciples’ picture vs. Jesus’ picture), but it plays itself out on one screen. Almost like God’s PIP – Pictures In a Passage!
Or it’s kind of like the weird pictures that you stare at for a long time, then they become clear. Have you ever seen one of those? That’s the idea here as well – it’s one picture, but the longer you stare at it, the clearer the real picture becomes.
Such is the case here in Luke 21. We have two things going on:
Picture #1 is what the disciples saw, and picture #2 is what Jesus saw. Let me read the text and then we’ll make some observations.
[READ LUKE 21:1-4]
These two pictures in a passage remind me of what happens often in church when we give our tithes and offerings to God – what we see is just a little different than what God sees. Let me show you.
[“Cheerful Givers” Video]
Well, that probably hits home, doesn’t it? While that sinks in, let’s take a look at the contrasts in thee verses, the two pictures that are seen in this one passage.
1. The disciples saw rich people giving; Jesus saw a poor widow sacrificing.
You know the difference between the two, right? Let me see if this simple story will illustrate:
Once upon a time, a pig and a chicken were walking down a village street. They came upon a church sign which was advertising a prayer breakfast which was going to be held in a few days. At the bottom of the sign the menu was given. It read “Ham and eggs will be served from 6:30 to 8:00 am.” The chicken turned to the pig and said, "See!!’ Even we can help the work of the church!!!"
"Yes," said the pig, "but yours is only a contribution, mine is a SACRIFICE."
And that leads me to my next observation:
2. The disciples saw portions; Jesus saw proportion.
Often it is not just what we give but we give in relation to what we have. That’s the idea behind proportion. For instance, when I was in Atlanta as a youth pastor, we were feeding the homeless and passing out winter coats one fall evening. In fact, it was actually snowing that night! While I was ministering, a man approached me and asked me for a coat. But I didn’t have any left, and upon the leading of the Spirit, I simply sized him up and saw that mine would fit him. So I took mine off and handed it to him. And yes, it was new one someone had given me that week! But far better for him to have a coat than me. You see, that was different to him – because it was a gift given out of proportion. I gave him from what I had, not just from what others had.
That’s why it is so amazing to read about the way the early Christians and churches gave – it was always out of their poverty. 2 Corinthians 8 and Philippians 4 are tremendous passages that reveal to us the way they sacrificed. And Jesus notices that type of sacrifice because it is proportionate giving.
Here’s another way of saying this:
3. The disciples saw how much; Jesus saw how much was left.
Jesus noticed that even after the rulers gave, they still had an abundance. But not the widow – she gave when really she had nothing to give. And so she was left with nothing.
In fact, this is proven by the usage of the words in the text. Did you know that two words are used in this story to describe the depth of poverty this woman was in? ‘Peno’ is used, which means to have to toil for daily substance (living day by day); and then ‘Ptochos’ is used, which describes a beggar who is destitute and in a very deep poverty. This woman was so poor that not just one but both were used to describe her. She was at the bottom of the barrel. Yet, she gave out of that depth of poverty.
Here’s the cool part of this equation. When you start with nothing and give something, you wind up giving more than those who start with something and give little. That’s what God said, wasn’t it? In fact, he actually said she gave more than all the others combined!