Summary: Today we’ll learn a significant lesson from a seemingly insignificant person. If not for Jesus pointing her out, the act of the poor widow would’ve escaped everyone’s notice and the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson would’ve been lost.
THE POOR WIDOW’S OFFERING (Mark 12:41-44)
Today we’ll learn a significant lesson from a seemingly insignificant person. If not for Jesus pointing her out, the act of the poor widow would’ve escaped everyone’s notice and the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson would’ve been lost. Let’s see what we can learn from the poor widow’s offering.
1) Jesus is watching (41-42). The treasury receptacles were made of metal and shaped like a trumpet. They didn’t have paper money then; just coins. Bigger coins meant a bigger denomination. Coins would make noise when they were thrown into the receptacle. Bigger, heavier coins made more noise than smaller, lighter ones. And obviously the more coins thrown in the more noise they will make. So the rich would make sure the noise was heard and the people (especially the priests who would be supervising) would notice and be impressed.
Other translations word it as Jesus watched how others were putting into the treasury. NASB: “And he sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.” I don’t believe Jesus was impressed with the amounts that people gave-he was more interested in the manner in which people gave.
How do we give-do we go out of our way to make it obvious? Do we make sure people know about it when we give or do we give without caring who sees? What’s the attitude of our heart when we give? Do we do it begrudgingly or only because we feel pressure to or do we give willingly and with a cheerful heart? Jesus is watching how we give.
The widow’s offering (vs. 42). This poor widow would’ve been exempt from having to give. Everything she had was worth only a fraction of a penny. How do you tithe off a penny? So, it looks like she wasn’t there because she had to be, she was there because she knew God wanted her to be. And when it became clear to her that God was prompting her to go to the treasury she could’ve tried to justify not giving by thinking, “I need this much more than they do. My measly amount won’t matter anyway; I’m keeping it.” Or, since she had two coins, how easy would it have been for her to say, “I’ll give one; but I’m not giving both.” And under normal circumstances no one would have disagreed with her. But, she knew what God wanted her to do. Although it wasn’t easy she was obedient. God will ask us to do some very uncomfortable things. Hopefully we will pass those tests.
2) The greater offering (43). Here we see the difference between giving out of your abundance vs. giving sacrificially. Many people make the mistake of thinking the larger the offering the larger the heart. Jesus reveals that although everyone else gave a larger amount monetarily, this poor widow gave the most proportionately.
Two people can give $1.00. Same amount but different hearts. The one who has made $10.00 has given 10% and is showing more love, devotion and trust than the other one who made $100.00 and thus has given only 1%. It’s the size of the heart that matters; not the size of the gift. 2nd Cor. 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”
No offering is insignificant if it’s given willingly, lovingly, obediently. If your tithe is only a dollar then that’s okay. A little is a lot in the hands of God. The little boy brought a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish and Jesus turned into enough food to feed about 20,000 people.
Unfortunately, though, many people give what is comfortable; not what is challenging. They look and say they can’t afford to tithe-it doesn’t fit within their budget. Sometimes the reason why we say we can’t afford to is because when it comes to our finances we don’t start with God. We pay our bills and buy our stuff and we decide that if there’s anything left at the end then we’ll give. God should be first; not last. There’s a saying that goes, “give God what’s right; not what’s left”. But do we have the faith and trust to do that? The greater offering is one that might cause us to have to forsake some of our luxuries. The greater offering will challenge us to trust God to make all things work out. Can we make such an offering?
3) She gave everything (44). “All she had to live on”. She left herself with no means; which means she put herself in a position to have to completely rely on God. It’s one thing to be in this position when it happens beyond your control but to know that what you are about to do will put you in that position is something else entirely. You might even say she was out of her mind.