“A poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. . . she, as poor as she is, has given everything she has.’” Luke 21:2-4 (NLT)
This passage is an instant challenge and bothers me for one reason: I don’t know if I could drop everything I have in God’s collection box and walk away.
Yet, that is exactly what this widow did. She took her entire net worth, two of the smallest of Jewish coins, walked into the presence of God, and without considering anyone was watching, especially God as Messiah, dropped them in the collection box and walked away. She didn’t get a receipt, couldn’t write it off on her taxes as a charitable donation and didn’t tell the pastor she no longer had food money or bus fare to return home. She simply gave her all to God and walked away because that was what her heart wanted to do.
Not me. My ego always struggles with acknowledgment. I want the leaders of the church and denominational officials (and truth be told, God, to a lesser extent) to know exactly what I’m sacrificing. I not only want my left hand to know what my right hand is doing (Matt. 6:3), I want them to get together and start an avalanche of applause because I’ve done it. Who really wants to give in secret when a bunch of our friends can get together and give us a big party for all our generosity?
Actually, many people give just like this unnamed widow woman: generously, anonymously, and almost fearful somebody will find out. They live to give and look for ways to invest in the Kingdom. I know they’re out there because I’ve met them. Even went to church with a few of them. One millionaire I met said all he wants to do is make God famous with his money. Looking back on it, I wonder if he meant he wanted to make God famous with his own personal money or with the money he knows is already God’s. Either way, the result was the same – a complete investment in the Kingdom of God.
I can’t help but wonder what that would look like – completely investing everything I have in God’s Kingdom. How would it feel to walk into the Temple of God, take everything I own, drop it at His feet and walk away? I know I was supposed to have done that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and claimed Him as my Lord. But in reality, I’m grateful Jesus is my Savior but I’ve retained lordship, possession and control of most everything else. It’s my name on Friday’s paycheck, my name on the registration of the truck, my name on the gas bill and my name on the church sign, right after the name of the church – the church name that doesn’t mention God. I claim Him as Savior but live as my own Lord. And now, a poor widow woman is challenging my professed, but not yet possessed, spirituality.
Maybe if I had nothing but a couple of coins in my pocket it would be easier to give it up. But then, maybe not. If I don’t have a generous spirit with everything I have now, what’s to say I’d be more generous if I had less? Or more?
I wish I had a good answer to these questions. I do know I need to spend more time talking with God about my attitude toward His stuff, remembering that everything from the paycheck to the cell phone and all things in between are actually His. Maybe when that truly becomes a reality, the story or a poor woman’s rich offering will stop being a challenge because I’ll finally be as generous as she was. But until then, I hope this story never stops bothering me.