A poor widow. Two small, seemingly insignificant, copper coins sat inside of her hand. She was among the others who had come to present their offerings at the temple treasury. Others had more than her; many gave more as well. Yet, Jesus was there watching,…observing. He saw the rich give much. He saw the widow. She gave but a few cents…all that she had…those two small coins.
“Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on’” Mark 12:43-44
Insignificant? Not so. Jesus saw this woman’s heart. He saw her willingness to give all that she had…not out of her surplus, but out of the little that she had to live on…to survive. Those two copper coins had value, great value in the eyes of the Lord.
A drought filled land. A woman gathering sticks to build a fire. She was to prepare the last of her rations for her and her son. Elijah arrives in Zarepath and encounters the woman. He requests a bit to drink and some bread to eat. She explains her dilemma. She has but a handful, a mere handful, of flour and a bit of oil in a jar. Elijah’s instructions? Go and do as planned, but she was to bring him the first little cake of bread. She was not to feed herself or her son first, but to meet his need.
“For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’ So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.” I Kings 17:14-16
A tight week, with little food. Mouths to feed. Empty wallet. A smiling face at the door. A tin foil wrapped package. A bit of extra ham to give. A need met. A lesson learned.
What is the common thread in each scenario? Each woman followed the prompting of the Lord and gave not out of her surplus, but out of the little that was had.
The widow gave all that she had to live on as an offering. Surely the Lord would have understood if she had kept a coin for herself. There were others, wealthier people, who would give. How would she survive? Yet, she listened to the prompting of the Lord and gave all.
The woman at Zarepath had but a handful of flour and a bit of oil. She was prepared to eat with her son, then die, for there would be no more flour, no more oil left. There must have been others with more food, others with more resources to care for this man Elijah. He would not want her son to starve. Surely he would understand. She followed the prompting of the Lord and served another first with the little she had.
The friend with a bit of extra ham. She had a husband and five children to feed at home. Leftovers could make a meal or two for them. She wouldn’t have to cook tomorrow night. But there’s this family. Times are tough for them right now. Oh, but what good would a little bit of ham do? She’d be embarrassed to offer something so small and insignificant. There must be others who are helping them, others with more than her, others who could better meet their needs. She too followed the prompting of the Lord and has been the basis for a life lesson that has literally changed my life.
There are many people who believe that generosity is exclusive to those with healthy bank accounts. They believe that giving must be out of their surplus…their extra…the part that they really don’t need. They believe that others who are better off are better able to meet the needs they see around them. They believe that a little gift won’t go very far or do much good. I am here to tell you that all of those assumptions are false. They are lies.
The Lord can use the little we may have to not only be a blessing to those around us, but to show His goodness and provision to them as well. We have no way of knowing what good a few dollars will do. What impact a winter coat or a pair of shoes could make. How a bit of food can not only fill a belly but a heart as well. We do not have the foresight to see how the Lord may take our seemingly small gift and multiple it.
We simply need to do a few things.
- We first need to pray that the Lord would open our eyes to the needs of the people around us. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own lives that we can be blind to what is going on around us. Pray for eyes to see.
- Secondly, we need to follow the prompting of the Lord. If you see a need, have means to meet that need, and sense that the Lord is moving you to action, do it! Pray for ears that hear the Lord’s prompting.
- We need to trust the Lord. We need to have faith that the Lord will take our little gift and use it in a mighty way. We need to trust in His plan. Pray for a heart that trusts in God’s plan.
- Finally, we need not advertise our giving. If the Lord allows you the privilege to meet a need, that should be between you and the Lord. There is no need to announce it to the world. If it’s possible, I would encourage you to give in secret as well. Pray for lips that are restrained.
If you doubt how far a humble gift can go, I leave you with this:
There was a boy with a five small barley loaves and two fish…