Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. 4For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
The excitement of hearing from God faded quickly as the reality of what he just spoke to me began to sink in. “You’ve heard it said to dress for the job you want; I’m asking you to tithe for the income you want.” I heard it so clearly I instinctively looked into the passenger seat of my car as if to answer the someone that wasn’t there. We all question at some point in our life whether the things we are thinking came from God or from our own inclinations. But there were no doubts this time. I have never been more sure that I was hearing from God and my heart raced like a child on Christmas morning at the reality of it. Even more so as I began to consider what those words would actually mean for my life, my finances, and ultimately my faith. Nope. No way. No how. Those words did not come from any place in me and, in fact, the more I pondered them, they began to stir fear in the very depths of my being.
If I was going to obey this challenge, and let’s face it, how could I not, God was going to have to work miracles every month for an indefinite amount of time. But greater than the fear of how ends would be met was the fear that if I didn’t obey, God might not speak to me so clearly again for a long time. And I certainly didn’t want to risk that. So, when next payday came around my tithe reflected not 10% of the amount on the check but 10% of the amount God had placed on my heart for my income to be. And so began a journey of faith in giving that I am still walking to this day.
It’s no wonder the widow’s sacrificial giving strikes a chord with me as I read her story in the few short verses in the Books of Mark & Luke. In the verses above, Jesus was sitting with His disciples near the temple treasury watching people depositing money into the offering boxes. They watched as the rich were contributing large sums of money, but then along came a widow with two small coins in her hand. The widow put her coins into the box, and Jesus called His disciples over and pointed out her action:
I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.
Mark 12:43-44 and Luke 21:1-4
Does anyone else find it encouraging to know that God is watching and sees our efforts, no matter how small, to be obedient and exercise our faith? Just as he pulled the disciples over to point out her offering, I like to think Jesus is sitting next to God in heaven pointing out His children as we “make good choices” here on earth. I mean, He’s our biggest fan after all!
Notice also how God sees what man overlooks. The big gifts in the temple were surely noticed by people; that’s probably what the disciples were watching. But Jesus saw what no one else did. He saw the humble gift of a poor widow. This was the gift that Jesus thought worthy of comment – to his disciples and to us through the Bible – and this was the gift that Jesus wanted to make sure the disciples didn’t miss. God promotes giving sacrificially and the widow’s offering was a true sacrifice; the rich had not begun to give to the level of her sacrifice. The other gifts in the treasury that day made a lot of noise as they jingled into the offering boxes, but the widow’s coins were heard in heaven.
Finally, I also find it reassuring that God commends giving in faith. Here was a woman in need of receiving charity, yet she had a heart to give. Even though the amount was negligible—what could the widow’s offering actually buy?—she gave it in faith that God could use it. The widow’s faith is also evident in the fact that she gave the last of her money. Like the widow of Zarephath, who gave her last meal to Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:7–16), the widow in the temple gave away her last means of self-support. The Bible teaches that God provides for our needs (Matthew 6:25–34). We don’t know the details of this particular widow’s future, but we can be certain that she was provided for. Just as God provided for the widow and her son in Elijah’s day (1 Kings 17:15–16), God also provided for the widow in Jesus’ day. And this gives me confidence He will provide for me too.
As a single woman, responsible for all the expenses of my household, our verses today are ones that have become very personal for me as I have walked this path of giving, not out of my surplus, but out of sacrifice. But my intimacy with God has grown exponentially during this process and I wouldn’t want to trade that for anything. I have had to cling to so many promises of God that I had read hundreds of times in the past but now had to claim as truth for myself and actually believe God would do them for me. When I would worry about how there would be enough, I would hear God’s voice in my head saying, “don’t worry about anything but pray about everything”. (Philippians 4:6) When my hands would hesitate to hit the send button on my giving app God reminded me I should “give what I decided in my heart to give” and that He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). And when I considered maybe “just this once” giving slightly less, the Holy Spirit convicted me that “whoever sows generously will reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
If I said my giving journey has been a walk in the park I would be lying for sure. But then I have found over the course of my Christian life that many powerful spiritual experiences usually come through times of great challenge and testing and often through circumstances that require great faith. I have often prayed about wanting faith like Abraham but when it comes down to it, I really wanted that kind of faith without having to go through the testing of it like Abraham experienced. Can anyone relate? However, the Bible promises we will get a reward for persevering through a faith test and at the end of it “we will be lacking nothing”. (James 1:2-4) So, like my physical workouts, I try to exercise my faith muscles regularly and look forward to watching the Lord show up and show off!
Heavenly Father, thank you for putting real stories of real people walking out real faith in the Bible for us to learn from. You never ask us to do things that we can’t accomplish as long as we lock arms with you and step forward in bold faith. Help us to remember that with you ALL things are possible and when we simply can’t see or understand how things will work out let us trust that You are working behind the scenes to accomplish Your will.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Today’s post was written by Cyndi Staudt
Cyndi traveled a long & broken road that led to the heart of her Savior and is grateful God can use her tattered past in His story. God has placed in Cyndi a heart for sharing the love of Jesus both locally and globally and she has traveled to the Philippine’s (3 times), India (2 times), Thailand & Myanmar to let people in some of the most remote regions of the world know that God is Crazy about them. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing, performing & teaching aerial silks, hammock & hoop, traveling, writing devotionals, and date nights with her main (feline) man Harley. Most weekends you will find Cyndi enjoying Saturday night service at the Clermont Campus.