When little is much

By , April 21, 2011

”this poor widow has put in more than all the others” Luke 21:3

In the course of my pastoral ministry I visit many hospitals around the greater Toronto area to see patients and minister to them. I am always fascinated by the lists of donors whose names appear prominently on plaques in the foyer of these impressive institutions.

In a few hospitals people’s names are placed in categories depending upon how much they give. The categories go from smaller donations to ones over a million dollars. Obviously the ranks thin considerably when you reach higher amounts. Only in the smaller amounts donated do you see large lists of names. Sometimes a wing of the hospital is named after a particularly generous donor.

Certainly it is wonderful that people of means give such large sums for the relieving of suffering and to help humanity in various ways. Most of us are not in a position to give enough to get our names even on the lower lists of donors. We give what we can and look to the wealthy to make up the difference.

As we consider the context of this statement by Jesus we see Him and the apostles in the Temple in Jerusalem and they are in the court of the women. There thirteen large containers called the Trumpets for their appearance were lined up for people to put their offerings in as an act of worship to God. Each “Trumpet” had writing on it to indicate the use to which the money collected would be directed. As they watched the rich and commoners putting in their funds Jesus pointed out a destitute widow putting in the last of her money. They saw that it was the smallest copper coins possible and the amount was pitiful.

We understand that some donors would make a big deal of the size of their offering. They were the ones who also wanted the best seats in the synagogue and at the banquets they attended. Jesus also said they make a show with their lengthy prayers. So as they had witnessed these attention craving rich people putting in large sums this unselfconscious woman put in the two cheapest coins of the land. It was all that lay between her and nothing. She forfeited her supper that day and her future tomorrow by that simple act.

No one knew it was the last of her money except her and Jesus, who as God knew all things. It is after she gives the last of her money to live on that Jesus made the remarkable statement that she had given far more than the wealthy donors. This does not make sense to an accountant or mathematician but it certainly did to Jesus. He was far more impressed by her gift than any other one they saw that day.

Some people in this world are like that destitute widow. They know that they have little or seemingly nothing to give to the Lord. They see others with great talents and gifts who are much used in the Christian community. They seem to cast a long shadow in life and beside them the ones with little to give feel very small indeed. What can I give to the Lord when there are these amazing people who do so much.

Jesus said that wealthy people give out of their excess most times and this woman gave all she had to live on. There is quite a difference when you look at it that way. When we give and it does not interfere with our way of living we are giving less than this woman as far as God is concerned. It does not really cost us anything when we give from our excess. Only as we are required to reduce our standard of living by our significant giving to the work of the Lord are we truly giving in God’s eyes.

Few people of my acquaintance give as this widow gave. We, in our western luxury, feel we are generous in what we do to help the poor. Yet as we ponder the situation Jesus referred to we recognize we do little by comparison. We need to consider what we have left over after giving to the Lord as compared to what this widow had left after her offering. She was left with nothing and we usually have a lot that we keep for ourselves.

It may be that you have given to the Lord the health of your beloved spouse or even their very life. This is indeed a costly gift to God. Your sacrificial giving is noted by your Creator. If some aspect of life that most people enjoy but has been denied you in your life can you look on it as a costly offering to God? Are you able to be as giving as this woman?

Remember that if you lose everything except the Lord you still have what is most important. Our great treasure is our life in God, not the riches of this world. Do you have this great treasure of God Himself? Do you value His presence in your life worth losing all else that this life offers? If need be, let us see that to have the Lord with us is everything. Whatever else we can accumulate in this life is just the icing on the cake. It is simply not that important.

Whatever you have given to the Lord, however small your possible offering to Him, He knows your heart and sees that you have given much for Him and He shall reward you in the end.

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