Saturday, March 18, 2017
A New Look at Giving
When we measure our giving by the standard set in that epic story found in the first verses of the 21st chapter of Luke, we find ourselves coming up short. It is not only a story that is visual, but it is a story with a lot of noise as well. Jesus is watching two people giving gifts in the Temple. The offering receptacle is a bronze vessel shaped like a trumpet. A rich man throws in a handful of big coins that clink and clank as they roll around making such a loud noise everyone looks to see who is making such an extraordinary gift. When he is done, a poor widow throws in two copper coins which hardly make a sound as they quietly "slish" down the trumpet.
There are two key words in the story. One is the word "abundance" and the other is "poverty." The rich man gave out of his abundance; the poor widow gave out of her poverty. Most of us give gifts out of our abundance. To give a gift out of our abundance means giving out of the leftovers. It is not the kind of giving which involves risk taking as careful calculations have been made so that we are sure enough will be leftover after the giving to take care of all our wants and needs. To give out of our poverty is to give gifts that express risk taking. It is not the calculating gift, but the one which speaks of trust in God to provide. The widow gave all she had so if tomorrow's needs were going to be met, God would have to provide. The rich had enough left he did not feel any worry about tomorrow.
The Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent calls us to give gifts. Before we get too caught up in this Lenten discipline and do things according to business as usual, there might be some value in looking at how our giving reflect our own trust in God to provide our needs. As we read this story, we see how much is not as important as what kind of trust the giving represents. Does our giving speak of trusting in God, or trusting in our self?