Well, hello there! Thanks for coming back and joining me for the Women Encountering Jesus Bible Study Lesson Series. This week we will look at the widow who gave everything she had to live on, and the object lesson Jesus taught his disciples based on her offering. Then, we will dive deeper and explore the concept of giving out of poverty, what it means, and how it is essential for spiritual growth.
Women Encountering Jesus Bible Study Lesson Series: Giving Out of Your Poverty
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 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: 1-4; New International Version
The Last Day of Jesus’ Public Ministry
It was the end of last day of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus had recently rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and just the day before, had caused quite a stir when he cleared the temple of money changers and the like. In two days, the Pharisees would take money from the treasury in order to bribe Judas to betray Jesus. In less than a week, Jesus would be crucified.
Surely the significance of this day was not lost on Jesus. He spent the entire day at the temple, teaching and answering questions:
- a challenge to Jesus’ authority
- the parable of the evil farmers
- questions about paying taxes and the status of widows at the resurrection
- an explanation of the greatest commandment
- warnings against religious leaders
It is the end of the day, and Jesus has one more lesson to teach his disciples. What does he choose? What words of wisdom does he provide?
The Spectacle of the Temple
Mark 12:41 says that ‘Jesus watched as the crowds dropped in their money.’ Jesus watched. What do you think he saw?
- Merchants and moneychangers buying and selling animals for sacrifice.
- Beggars, hoping that the generosity of the temple-goers would lead to a gift for them too.
- Teachers of all kinds, finding a corner to stand on their soapbox and spout their version of II Opinions.
In other words, it was kind of rowdy. Lots of people, lots of activity, lots of noise.
Inside the treasury, 13 trumpet-shaped tributes were situated around the court. The tributes (donation collectors) were made of metal, so every donation made a loud clanking noise. It was easy to ‘be seen’ giving large amounts of money. I imagine that for many of the Jews, this act was as much an ego boost as a spiritual box to check. Look at me! I am so generous! Look at me! I go to the temple!
Among all this noise, all this activity, a poor widow steps up to the tribute and tosses in two smalls coins. The coins she gave were likely leptons, the smallest copper in circulation at the time.
They probably didn’t even make any noise. Which is ok, this widow did not want to draw attention to herself.
However, Jesus noticed her. Jesus notices everything. Jesus makes a point to notice things that others consider insignificant.
Jesus notices this woman and chooses her act of sacrificial giving as one of the last lessons he would teach the disciples– the importance of giving out of your poverty.
Giving From Abundance
So, is it wrong to give from abundance? No! This is actually a very important point to remember. All giving is good. However, Jesus didn’t praise those who were giving from their abundance, their surplus, their wealth. He praised this widow? Why? What is the difference?
Jesus didn’t praise people for doing what was expected… for doing the minimum.
What do you think about that? How do you give? Mostly we give from our abundance, right? Giving from our abundance feels better… it is certainly more comfortable.
However, that might mean that we never take risks, never make sacrifices for God:
- “I am not good at public speaking.”
- “I don’t have time to…”
- “I am hungry. It is time for lunch.”
- “I didn’t get anything out of that.”
- “I don’t know anyone.”
- “I don’t feel safe going there.”
The danger with mostly giving from our abundance is that it can lead to a life where we give God minimums;
a life where we only give when it is convenient, or when we have leftovers.
Giving From Poverty
So, what is giving out of poverty? What does that look like? Simply put, giving out of poverty is sacrificial giving. It is giving when it hurts, makes you feel uncomfortable, or when you have nothing left to give. Giving out of poverty (or abundance for that matter) is not just about money either.
Think about what you have to give, to offer. There are really three main areas in which you can give:
Time, talent, and treasure. What does it look like to give out of poverty in these areas?
A young Mom with three kids under the age of three drives out of her way to bring a meal to a family in need…
even though she is bone tired and hasn’t prepared dinner for her own family yet.
An aging grandmother, who suffers from severe arthritis in her hands, still sends handwritten notes of encouragement everyday.
The young twenty-something spends Friday night studying the Bible with a coworker instead of going out to dinner and a movie with friends.
Anytime you give in spite of yourself, you are giving out of poverty.
The reality is that sometimes you have nothing. You have no:
The reality is that sometimes you, yourself are hurting too:
- spiritually exhausted
- physically weak
- emotionally wounded
It is at these times that God calls you to give your widow’s mite.
Giving out of your poverty isn’t just about stewardship, although stewardship is a significant factor. Giving out of poverty is an act of faith. Giving when you have nothing to give, when you think you can least afford to give, is your acknowledgement that yes, God will supply all of your needs.
And you know what? God will supply all of your needs? It doesn’t matter if you think your act of giving is small and insignificant, God still sees it.. and will honor it.
Your giving is not insignificant to God. Your sacrifice will not go unnoticed by Him. No one else may see what you do, but God does. God excels in noticing and honoring the small things.
Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that comforting?
I challenge you this week to examine your life. Are you giving mostly from your abundance or are you giving out of your poverty? How can you get out of your comfort zone? How could sacrificial giving improve your faith, your dependence on God?
Thank you again for joining me this week. Enjoy the weekend and I hope to see you back next week!