After reading through this passage a few times, this scene seems to say much more about faith than it does about financial giving. True, the widow puts her last two bits into the offering while the rich people congratulate themselves about the large sums they have offered. True, many (including this preacher) have used this story as a motivator to urge people to dig deep when it cones to financially supporting the work of the church. True, Jesus wants our whole lives and not just a portion of our time, efforts and possessions. When Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:24) it is a full-time, whole-life devotion he invites us to pursue.
But there is another angle to explore in this text that is worth considering. Notice the difference between the wealthy and the poor widow. They don’t give this money for the good it might do, the people it might support, or the programs it might expand or continue. They give it to feel good about themselves. They give it out of obligation. They give it so others can see them because they are concerned about what others think about who they are. This passage calls us to check our own motivations for the good we do (or hope to do) or the things we support through our time, efforts and resources. Is our giving selfless or for the greater good? Or do we give to primarily serve our own pride?
The widow on the other hand is alone. She has no one to impress. She doesn’t give her last bits to feel good; she goes to the Temple to give her last possessions away so she can die. She doesn’t give out of obligation; she gives away all sense of attachment she has left. She doesn’t care what others think; she has only come to be with God. She ultimately puts her life (and whatever comes next) into God’s mercy and care. What attachments keep you from giving your whole life to God? Maybe this is a stewardship text after all – but not in the ways we once thought. The question for us as both hearers of this story and as managers of the lives God has given to us is this: Which of these people we hope to be?
Do we manage what we have based on peer pressure? or can we dig a little deeper than that and focus on our relationship with God? Do our resources and relationships say more about what we hope others think about us or does our time, efforts and resources reflect our trust in God?
The widow is an example of faithfulness that brings our stripped-down selves before God saying, “There is nothing left to keep me from you. I am yours.”
I hope to trust in God like that. Do you?
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