As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” 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.”Luke 21 v 1-4 (NIV)
You know what? I’ve always thought of this in a moral sense. And to some extent, this is true. Jesus was commending this woman for giving out of her poverty rather than the others who were very wealthy. Who would disagree?
When we hear of the rich and mighty generously giving millions to a cause, we do admire it. But at the back of our minds, knowing they have tens of millions leftover, there can be a tempering of that admiration.
(But it is truly generous of them regardless, and no one can deny the good the actual money can be used for regardless of motivation or purity of intentions of the giver. Let’s not judge until we have millions to give away and actually do it, eh?)
But really moves us are stories where a father sacrifices the school fees reserved for his son so as to feed a neighbour. Or someone giving up their life savings to pay for an operation for a stranger. The actual amounts are dwarfed by the mega-contributions we see, but the moral aspect is greater because of the sacrifice involved. And in a sense, the less one has, the greater the sacrifice.
So that, I think is the point of the story above.
But, what if Jesus also meant what he said quite literally?
(NO biblical authority, or divine inspiration here – this is just purely my idle speculation, for fun.)
Consider this, who among us in church, has not heard of this story about the poor widow and two copper coins? Usually cynically mentioned during fund-raising, or pledge week, or at other times where someone is trying to guilt-trip us into giving generously. And it does work.
Ok, that’s being really cynical.
To be fair, sometimes this story is used honestly, scripturally, and according to God’s will. And it does inspire true, honest, sacrificial giving like it is meant to, for the benefit of both the giver and recipient.
In either case, think of how much money has been given because of this story, because of what this old widow gave?
Sometimes, in mega-fundraisers, celebrities are roped in to encourage people to give. It works. Their presence for a cause can bring in much more than they contribute (if they do at all) and in a sense, the money raised can be attributed to them.
Likewise, how much financial giving do you think this old widow inspired?
When I die and get to see how things really happen from God’s view, I look forward to checking this particular aspect out. And I think it might just be, OMG (literally addressing him rather than as an expression) the story of this old widow’s donation did really “cause” more money to be given than anyone else! She really is the top contributor and “put in more than all the others” not just morally but literally financially too!
Like I said, NO biblical basis for this, NO spiritual authority here, just me and my opinion. But you know what? I wouldn’t put it past God to do something like that – to make things true of a spiritual level (which is the more important of course) but also nail it in the most base, physical and crude level too – because He controls those aspects too, and it’s no problem for Him to do it all.