One day Jesus and His disciples were watching the offering box at the Temple. (Mark 12:41-44) As they watched, many rich people put in large amounts. (That’s good, right? The priests and their families need support, the Temple needs upkeep. The rich people need tax deductions.) I can imagine the disciples giving a group “thumb’s up” sign.
Then a poor widow woman put in two pennies. She took her little coin purse, turned it upside down, and shook out those last two coins. Or more likely…she carried them all the way from home in her hand, tucked under her shawl, having emptied the last of her earnings jar before she came. She probably slipped them into the box making no noise at all.
But, you may think, what can two pennies buy? Some people won’t even bend over to pick up a penny from the sidewalk. Perhaps the disciples shook their heads at the uselessness and sadness of such a small offering.
But Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.”
He continued, “For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Jesus explained that the rich gave a percentage of what they had, while the widow gave all she had.
More actual cash from the rich men went into the Temple coffers, but more investment value from the widow reached Heaven’s treasury.
How strange is God’s bookkeeping. He considers things of lasting value, like heart generosity and sacrificial giving, more important than obligated giving. (Philippians 4:18*)
Yes, wise, carefully calculated donations are important, but God doesn’t really need our money. He owns everything (Psalm 50:10-12*). He can give us all we need or ever ask for from the vast riches He has. (Philippians 4:19*) God wants our heart. He loves a contrite heart, a poor-in-spirit, humble, depending-on-Him-alone heart. This He praises and rewards. This glorifies Him. (Psalm 51:16-17*, Matthew 5:3*)
“Man sees on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Lord, you see my heart. You see the discontent and greed and coveting that I hold dear, and You see the struggle I have to defeat those sins. You see my worldliness, my love of things, my stinginess. But You also see my desire to know and to love You foremost…to treasure You above everything.
Help me release to You all I hold dear, and give You my “last penny,” my future, my life… and then joyfully depend on You, O, Creator, Sustainer, and Owner of the universe and all that is in it. (Luke 12:32-34*)
*Philippians 4:18 – “I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received …the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
*Psalm 50:10-12 – “For every beast of the forest is mine; the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.”
*Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
*Psalm 51:16-17 – “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.”
*Matthew 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
*Luke 12:32-34 – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”