You play the role of financial counselor…
A quiet, unassuming woman, with gray hair slightly unkept, comes to you for advice. She doesn’t get paid until next week, she’s going to have to ration her food to eat for the rest of the week unless she heads to the market but she really wants to give the last of what she has this month to the temple treasury. What do you say?
According to the Mishnah, one of the major early records of Jewish tradition, there were thirteen “shofar chests” set against the wall in the court of women in the temple in Ancient Israel. These trumpet shaped receptacles invited worshippers to give to the worship and work of the Lord.
As Jesus is sitting there watching, He sees a bunch of the wealthy loading the receptacles with money. Now this certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it is the widow that catches His attention.
We don’t know her, and we don’t know if Jesus knew her, but by His comments, it seems that He knew something about her situation. She becomes, for all of time, a picture of the reflection that Jesus wants from us: rather than showy spirituality rooted in pride, quiet generosity rooted in humility born from the gospel.
As He watches, she puts in “duo lepta,” two coins termed “lepta” from the Greek word for “thin.” These things were tiny and their value matched their size they were worth roughly 1/8 of a cent, 1/64 of a Roman denarius (which was a day’s wage).
You can imagine the scene, the wealthy contributions clatter and sing as they drop coins after coins after coins, while this woman’s contribution barely makes a sound.
Of course, they have given more, but it’s not about the amount of money, God doesn’t need our money, it’s about how much it cost you, it’s about the state of your heart. Our giving is not merely an administrative function — it is worship. Our giving reveals our hearts; what we love and where we place our trust.
As we begin 2020, your elders have made some ambitious goals
in regard to our spending and those whom we support. We have done this carefully and prayerfully and as an act of faith in God’s provision to us. And as an act of faith that you as God’s people, seeking first the Kingdom of God, will be striving for quiet generosity that flows from gospel-filled hearts.
This is your church. You are the church.
Will you take increased ownership of it and strive to imitate that anonymous widow of the 1st century?
Will you strive to mimic that churches of Macedonia commended by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 as giving beyond their means? May God give us such generosity.