And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
-Luke 21:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
In the Gospels, The Book of Luke has always been the one that spoke to me the most. Some of that may be from reading a novel called “The Road to Bithyia” by Frank G. Slaughter, M.D. That work is not my focus here, but I do recommend it.
I’m thinking about the widow’s mites. In the recounting that Luke gives us, a widow is shown giving the two mites as her tithe. Now, there’s a lot of argument about how much does two mites equal in today’s wages. Frankly, the amount is beside the point. It’s more about what those two mites represented in the life of the widow than what it represented in what it could purchase.
We don’t know if the widow was aware of the presence of Jesus and his disciples. I’m not sure if she knew she was the focus of a ‘teachable moment’ for the followers of Christ. We can rely on accounts of Christ being able to perceive the heart and minds of those around him, including the widow. It may have been physically evident that she was poor from her style of dress, or her age, or possible undesirability for remarriage – we simply don’t know. Something drew His attention to her spiritual being.
We do know that there were those that bragged about their piety in the church, or other places. Of course, it stands to reason that those people were there too, and Christ was sure to contract those with the widow.
Her contribution was seen as having more spiritual value than its physical value. Sure, once the offering was totaled up by whomever had that job, the two mites probably went unnoticed in relation to the larger coins and such that the others put into the then-equivalent of a collection plate.
Surely there were a difference in the people doing the giving. The ones with wealth probably didn’t agonize over whether to tithe or eat, after all. If they did so, then they had problems that the widow was blessed to not have, anyway.
I’m wondering now how many kinds of ‘sacrificial giving’ there are in today’s world. In the widow’s case, it was financial. Nowadays, there’s a lot that I can think of. Doing things for the church, like cutting the grass and washing the windows, and helping with the parsonage, if there’s one. Babysitting kids during services, if that’s what the church does. Helping to run a food truck for people who are more unfortunate. Visit with people who are homebound. Help kids with things that their parents need help with, even though they’re working their fingers to the bone to provide for – something.
Find a strength in yourself and utilize it, in service to others. The widow gave her two mites in service.
You might not be rewarded with fame or fortune by doing it – but frankly, why would you want that?
The widow didn’t give her two mites with the intention of becoming someone famous in history or celebrated. I’m pretty sure of that. She most likely wanted to put her mites in the box without others seeing her and making fun of the paltry sum she had.
Good thing for us she was seen anyway and by Someone who could see more than any of us.
I’m grateful for that unsuspecting widow, far removed in time from me, with her two mites. She reminds me to be humble. Her treasures were stored up in heaven and I hope she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.
So, do things for others even if you are less than financially stable. Your actions can be a mite – good works, it’s sometimes called – but know that good works alone won’t guarantee you a spot on the Heavenly roster. I’m not going into the rest of those details here. For that, start with John 3:16.
Be kind to each other, okay?