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  • Writer's pictureWill Stockdale

Giving to God

Lessons from the Widow's Offering

The majesty of God is greater than our imaginations can fathom. He is glorious and resplendent. He sits enthroned in heaven, beautiful beyond comprehension - the Son is a bridegroom adorned in splendor. His power and might establish the earth, control the seas, and move the mountains. When asking the question, what is God, the Westminster Shorter Catechism answers, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

It is with these conceptions in mind that we consider Mark 12:41-44. In this scene Jesus sits down outside the treasury and watches people bring their offerings to God. This must have been quite the spectacle, for we are told by the author that the rich brought in large sums of money. Perhaps you can picture wealthy merchants and successful businessmen bringing bags of coins and wheelbarrows of gold. That is an exaggeration, of course, but in this story there does seem to be an intention among many of the rich to show off their wealth.

However, Jesus does not comment on those gifts. Rather, his words are reserved for a poor widow who “put in two small copper coins.” It is an understatement to say that this woman’s gift pales in comparison to the gifts of the rich in terms of material value. For the economic value of her gift was worth about 1/64 of a day's wages. That is hardly an amount worthy of comment.

But Jesus does comment on her gift. Seeing her offering, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Why does Jesus say this? We remember that Jesus is sitting outside the treasury not just as a prophet, or a teacher, but as the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus, who is God and has been with the Father and the Spirit from eternity past, is watching people give money to him. Better than any other human in history, Jesus knew how great and infinite God is. He knows that the cattle on a thousand hills belong to him (Psalm 50:10). In the most intimate way possible Jesus knows that God does not need flashy gift giving. God is looking for a different kind of giving.

And does this have to do with us? The majesty and greatness of God nourishes our hearts because we know that we cannot outgive him. As the Creator and Sustainer we can never give more to God than he has given to us. This abundance provides assurance and stability. So, what God desires are gifts of love from a heart that believes in the goodness of God.

Additionally, some of us feel like we don’t have as much to give God as others do. Maybe not just in terms of finances, but in terms of personal gifts and talents. But because he is the initial giver, and knows better than we do the gifts he’s given us, we ought not worry, or be discouraged by this. For “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). We can give freely, of whatever we have, because God has lavished his love upon us (1 John 3:1).

What God is asking is that we get to know him as “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable…” That we know him as the giver of all good things. It is from that posture that we give him our time, talents, and treasure. May we give like the poor widow who has a perfect bridegroom in heaven.

Rev. Will Stockdale is Ministry to State's Director of D.C. ministry.


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