God’s value system is so different from ours, no wonder Paul advises us to renew our minds. Our natural understanding of the world is shaped by the secular, materialistic environment that we live in, but in order to walk by faith and not by sight, it is required that one sees things from God’s perspective. We tend to value tangible things much higher than we do spiritual things, as a matter of default. It is hard to make the switch in our heads to see that the material is temporary, and the spiritual eternal.
Mark tells the story of Jesus watching people bringing their offerings to the temple — very intimidating, to say the least. But Jesus wasn’t looking for money at all.
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. Mark 12:41,42
Jesus counted a woman’s offering! But He also knew how much she had left after she gave, for she gave all that she had. He also noticed how much the rich people gave:
So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:43,44
Her offering, little as it was, showed that she had her priorities right; by giving all she had she actually gave herself to Him. We don’t know her name, but we do know her heart, for it was revealed in her giving — which is exactly how God shows His love for us!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
God loved, so He gave; He gave His most precious, beloved Son. Think about it: few things reveal your love for someone as your giving does. We give for birthdays, graduations, weddings, at Christmas, or for no reason at all. We always find a reason to give to express our love.
What is interesting about this story is that Jesus wasn’t moved by what she gave, but by what she had left after she gave her offering. Herein is the real test of love and faith. We find it so easy to say, “ I don’t live anymore, Christ lives in me”, but this woman lived it.
Putting all her livelihood in the offering was an act of faith. From thereon she had to trust the Lord to take care of her. She probably heard Jesus teaching that we should not worry about what we will eat, or drink, or wear, because the Father knows what we need. (Matthew 6:31,32)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Jesus also said to seek the Kingdom first for God will take care of our needs, and that is exactly what she did. Because she trusted the Lord she didn’t fear the future, but activated a powerful principle:
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38
This was a poor widow, not someone who would usually impress anybody, yet here we are, still talking about her 2000 years later. What a difference those two copper coins made! Her wallet was empty but her heart was full!
There is a difference between material and spiritual wealth, and Luke remembered the words of Jesus when He spoke about it:
Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? Luke 16:11
True riches are spiritual and last into eternity!
Giving is the best cure for our dependence on tangible wealth. When Jesus sat at the offering He saw mostly hearts, not money. He is after your heart, not your stuff, but your stuff reveals where your heart is.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
When Jesus talks like He does in the verses above, it is not His intention to keep you poor, but He teaches us how to become really wealthy: you grow by giving, not hoarding!
Now, Jesus is not against us living well; He actually promised us an abundant life in John 10:10, but He wants us to love Him more than our material possessions. The best way to reciprocate the Lord’s love for us, is to give ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us.