Three Lessons From a Poor Widow

A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church

“Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl.

When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.

“Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection, the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.”

Giving is a personal, private matter. When preachers bring up the subject of giving, too often the attitude is “Preacher, you’ve quit preaching and gone to meddling.” The Bible, however, has a great deal to say about money, our attitude toward it and use of it.

During the last week of Jesus’ life, He went into to Jerusalem and Luke records this scene.

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Lk 21:1-4)

There are several lessons to be learned from this narrative.

(1) God is not so much concerned with the amount we give, but the spirit with which we give it.

Any gift that is given grudgingly loses its value. Regarding our Lord’s day contribution the apostle Paul instructs, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

The Greek word for “cheerful” is hilaros. You immediately see we derive the word hilarious from it. What some folks give is hilarious. But not in a good way. Giving should be cheerful and joyful. We’ve heard the expression, “Give until it hurts.” How about giving until it feels good?

(2) Giving involves sacrifice.

When considered against all other Bible passages on giving and the use of money, Jesus is not teaching that we should put our last dollar into the treasury. We must have funds to support our families, pay our bills and ante up money for Uncle Sam on April 15th.

Apart from our church contribution are opportunities to individually help others as taught in several Bible passages (Gal. 6:10; Eph. 4:28; Jas. 1:27). To the wealthy, the Bible exhorts, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:18)

All giving involves some element of sacrifice. Because we have given up whatever personal pleasure we could have enjoyed with that money. But there are times that call for greater sacrifice To dig deep. To meet a pressing need whether in the church or in some worthy cause that we support. The first century Christians actually sold properties to meet an urgent benevolent need among their brethren (Acts 4:34-37).

(3) Giving demonstrates our faith in God.

The widow in the narrative gave all that she had. Where was her next meal coming from? How would she live? What would she do make “ends meet”? We don’t know. But it does show her faith that “God would provide.”

The Bible teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. Regarding our giving, Paul wrote, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor 9:6). Like David of old, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread” (Ps 37:25).

Giving is an opportunity to support what we believe in. To see it continue, prosper and grow. To have fellowship with others in a common cause. To share God’s blessings. And to use our resource to do good.

The amount is not as important in God’s eyes as is the attitude behind it. As James Russell Lowell wrote it’s “Not what we give, But what we share, For the gift without the giver Is bare.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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