Friday, March 20, 2015
Still in the Temple, Jesus was watching people. Apparently, He was in that section of the Temple known as the Court of Women. In that place were bronze alms boxes where those who came to worship cast offerings. As Jesus watched and listened, He saw and heard the hard offerings and the soft ones. In those days the difference was not between paper and coins, but between throwing a handful or a few coins into the offering box. The rich came dressed in clothing which spoke of social status. Their offerings made a loud noise as coins were thrown in with a loud flourish. Their coins made such a loud noise that everyone looked to see the giver. And so the rich got their reward.
Jesus saw the rich giver, but He also saw the one who was poor. He saw those who wanted to be seen and those who tried to slip in and out without being noticed. But, more than anything else, Jesus was able to see and understand the heart of those who came to give gifts. When the poor widow came, Jesus saw her. In the midst of all the "oohs and aahs" caused by the extravagant attention getting giving of the rich, her offering hardly made a noise. Her two copper coins sounded softly as they hit the sides of the offering box, or trumpet as it was called because of its shape. Jesus saw and heard. Her gift he praised saying that the rich gave out the abundance, but she gave out of her poverty.
Does this mean that the affluent ones can never give gifts to God which are pleasing to Him? Since we are the affluent, what is Jesus saying about our gifts and offerings? There are two key words in this teaching of Jesus: abundance and poverty. The rich gave out of their abundance meaning that no matter how much they gave, it was not enough to really miss. It was the no-risk gift.
The widow gave out of her poverty meaning that she did not give from financial reserves, or from what was leftover after all her needs for today and tomorrow had been met. Instead, her gift was an expression of trust in God to provide that which was needed. Our question about our giving is best answered by looking not at how much money is given, but how much trust it really expresses.