Luke 21:1-4 (NIV) As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “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.”
The public donation chests were the perfect place for the rich to show off their generosity. By dropping in a large number of coins at a time, they could make a racket that would draw the attention of everyone nearby, who would then be impressed by their largesse toward God. (Paper money was not used in those days, and had it been, it would have been shunned by these people for contributions, since paper money would make no attention-getting noise.) Jesus condemned this way of giving (Matthew 6:2-4), proclaiming that the acclaim from other people that those givers so craved would be the only benefit that they reaped from their supposed generosity; God Himself would not contribute a blessing at all.
At the other end of the spectrum was this poor widow. Her contribution was two copper coins that were so small and light that they made no noise at all when they dropped into the box. Thus her giving was noticed by only Jesus and God the Father. That notwithstanding, her contribution reaped for her a greater blessing than the rich people could ever imagine. This was not just because she didn’t draw attention to herself, but because of the significant size of her gift.
The wealthy who attracted such attention to themselves may have given significant amounts to the treasury, but they gave what they could easily afford from their wealth. The widow’s comparatively miniscule offering was, quite literally, all that she had to live on. The wealthy might be giving 1% of their wealth; she gave 100% of hers.
The woman was praised not merely for the sacrificial size of her gift, but for the faith that allowed her to give it. She gave all she had, with the understanding that God was able to provide for her needs better than she could provide for herself. Her sacrificial gift represented her casting her whole lot on God, with a faith that He gladly honored.
Father, whether rich or poor, it is far more common to see people figure closely what they can afford to give, cautious lest they don’t have enough left to provide for themselves. How different from this widow! And even how different than Jesus’ instruction. By grasping and holding back from God, by relying on ourselves for support, we end up having to struggle to get by. We don’t believe Jesus’ promise: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV) and so we don’t actually experience Your promised abundant provision. Help me, Lord, to have the faith of this poor woman, so that I can give abundantly to You, and thus receive abundant provision from Your hand. Amen.