He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. – Luke 21:1-2
Our passage from Luke focuses on the actions of a “poor widow” whose gift to the temple, though small in monetary value, turns out to be great in the eyes of Jesus.
I have known many people throughout my life who depreciate the difference they make because it isn’t big enough. Folks in my church would think that their financial contribution wasn’t important because it was modest in size. Or they’d refer to themselves as “only a teacher” or “only a mom” or “only a small business owner.”
Jesus didn’t think in terms of “only.” We see this in today’s passage from Luke. He watched as wealthy people put gifts into the temple treasury. Presumably some were financially substantial. Then, he “saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins” (Luke 21:2). Though the monetary value of her gift was small, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on” (21:3-4). Jesus didn’t see the widow as giving “only” a tiny gift. He didn’t see her as “only” a poor widow with no hope of making a difference that mattered. Rather, in terms of the values of the kingdom of God, the fact that she gave sacrificially meant that, from Jesus’s point of view, the widow gave more than all of the wealthy people.
Notice that Jesus did not denigrate the generosity of the wealthy. It’s not that they did anything wrong by giving to the temple. His point was to lift up the value of the widow’s gift, acknowledging her sacrifice, honoring her commitment. She became an example of what living under God’s reign was really all about. It involves giving to God, not just something on the side, something extra, but rather your whole life, your whole self.
You may have considerable wealth. Or you may have limited financial resources. You may be extremely talented in ways that earn the praise of many. Or you may never do anything that earns the limelight. But what you have available to offer, whether big or small, doesn’t impress the Lord. What does get his attention is your willingness to give freely and generously, offering all that you have and all that you are in service to others in his name. No matter who you are or what you have, you can make a difference that matters . . . to God and his work in this world.
May this season of Lent be a time for you to examine your offering to the Lord, letting the poor widow in Luke be your teacher and inspiration.
Think and pray
Do you ever discount your contribution to God’s work in the world? Do something today in service to someone else. It doesn’t have to be big. It might be a simple phone call, email, or text. Give of yourself in a way you might not have done if you had not read this devotion.
Help me, Lord, to give my all to you. Teach me not to devalue my efforts because they’re not grand enough. Where I have much to offer, may I give that generously and sacrificially. Where I have little to offer, may I do the same. Help me, Lord, not to hold back because I fear my influence is modest. Rather, may I give all that I can, trusting you with the results.
Thank you, Lord, for honoring small gifts given with great love. Thank you for receiving gladly my gifts to you. Amen.
Published by The High Calling. Theology of Work Project Online Materials by The High Calling are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Mark D. Roberts is the Executive Director of Fuller's Max De Pree Center for Leadership. He is the principal writer of the Life for Leaders daily devotional. Emailed each morning to over 7,000 subscribers, Life for Leaders serves leaders in all sectors of life by helping them go deeper in relationship with God as they grow in a biblical understanding of their work.