In Matthew, Mark and Luke, approximately one out of every six verses have reference to money and giving, as do 16 of the parables that Jesus told. This in no way indicates that faith in general or Christianity in particular are all about money, but it does remind us that “Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Matthew 6:21). It also poses the perennial question of, do we have money, or does money have us?
One of the most powerful and poignant accounts in the Scripture, with respect to what giving is all about, is found in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 and relates information about a widow’s gift to God.
We will not apprehend all that Jesus was teaching in this text if we do not go back to Mark 12:40. Here, Jesus alluded to the fact that some of the religious leaders had been cheating widows out of their homes and simultaneously making long prayers to look good. Within this context, the widow’s offering becomes even more remarkable.
The first lesson that we can extract from the widow’s donation is that God takes note of many things that we might miss. It is usually the large gifts and donations that receive acclaim and accolades. In the temple that day, many had given large offerings, but it is this lady, humbly and inconspicuously, giving her “two small copper coins” that Jesus took note of.
Secondly, the Lord’s evaluation of what is given differs from man’s. The large gifts being offered that day, possibly made with a flourish, made some noise in the temple, but the widow’s humble contribution of two mites were heard in heaven. Jesus, placing emphasis on the proportionate nature of the gifts said, “this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty put in … all she had to live on”. The widow’s gift was sacrificial; the larger gifts, in comparison, were superficial.
Third, the widow’s thoughts and motives in giving, though not mentioned in the account, were most likely bilateral. First, she must have believed that though her gift was small, she gave it in faith, believing that God would be able to use it. Second, we should not suppose that this woman went from the temple to go home and die of starvation. Her giving was based on previous personal experience and she confidently ascertained that God, as He had possibly done many times before, would faithfully provide for her out of His abundance.
“Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.” – Augustine