Did you know that Jesus had more to say about money than prayer? Take, for example, the story of “The Widow’s Offering.” Found in both the Gospel of Mark (Mark 12:41-44) and again in Luke (Luke 21:1-4), Jesus tells us of a widow whose temple treasury offering blessed him so much that it was worthy of mentioning to his disciples (and us). I learned it as the story of the “Widow’s Mite” in the King James Version of the Bible many years ago. And I’ve written about it in the past. But that was before my husband decided to do a painting of the scene.
What exactly is a ‘mite’ and why did Jesus make a point of mentioning what he saw that day in the temple? In the original Greek language a “mite” is a “small coin” or “something scaled.” I find that second definition more telling, don’t you? I mean, something that is scaled has comparative value to something else. And who wouldn’t rather have a coin weighing more than less? In our story the widow only has two “mites” or two “small coins” to put in the treasury. These were the smallest coins, made of copper, that were in circulation in Palestine. And, as my husband observed, she could have kept one for herself! But Jesus notices her gift and comments, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” I don’t know about you, but that touches me to the core!
The Apostle Paul had a fair amount to say about money, too. In his letter to the church at Corinth, he told this about the grace that God had given to the Macedonian churches: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability (2 Cor. 8:2-3). Doesn’t it make you wonder: How do people with nothing give everything? It goes to the heart, doesn’t it?
A little later in the same letter to the Corinthians Paul challenges them (and us) with these words: But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving (2 Cor. 8:7). The widow gave all she had to live on; the Macedonian churches gave – not out of their abundance – but out of extreme poverty. Why? Because they knew Jesus was right when he said that life is far more than possessions. And they knew, deep down to the core of their being, the “overflowing joy” of being part of what God is doing in his Kingdom. Nothing could be more important or rewarding or satisfying than that. Nothing! For them, and hopefully, for us.
Stop by the Connect Kiosk and take a look at Steve’s painting, okay? It’s pretty good, and the look on the widow’s face might just surprise you!