“For all they did cast in of their abundance;
but she of her want did cast in all that she had,
even all her living.”
~ Mark 12:44
Usually when we come to this text, we talk about the widow. She is worthy of admiration and emulation. No question. But, other people put money in the treasury that day also. Mark reports:
“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much”
From this description, people of all classes were putting money in and some of them were rich, and many put considerable offerings in the treasury.
Christ commends the widow’s example, but He neither rebukes nor condemns the others. In other words, they were doing good by giving offerings into the treasury. Their gifts differed in size proportionally to their generosity and “many that were rich cast in much.” Everyone probably gave more than the “two mites” the widow gave.
All the contributors had one thing in common that distinguished them from this widow. Jesus said, “This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they . . . For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want” (Mark 12:43-44). All the people of all the different classes gave of their abundance. They were not all classified as rich, some were, but they gave of abundance. This means their offerings were not sacrifices. They weren’t wrong. They just weren’t sacrifices. The widow sacrificed.
Most of us are not the widow, we are the others. We might even be many that are rich. Imagine you are walking down a city street on a cold, windy evening. You round the corner and see an old woman shivering and trudging up the street. She has a thin tattered piece of cloth pulled about her shoulders. The wind is blowing loose strands of her hair across her face and she puts up no resistance. You are moved with compassion and become suddenly aware of the warm hands balled up in your coat pockets. You take off your coat and put it around the woman saying, “Here, Ma’am, take my coat.” She grasps it tight around her, says, “Thank you,” and goes on.
Though your heart is warm, a sudden blast of chill brings you back to reality of just how cold it is. You shiver and think. There are a few blocks to go to get to your car, which will warm up quickly and you will be nice and toasty to return to you warm house and another coat. There is also a clothing store at the corner, which is still open. You could go in and just get another coat. If it is really cold, most of us would probably just go buy another coat right there, but even if we chose to be thrifty and go home to our older coat, we could buy one if we wanted to.
Would it be wrong to give your coat in that circumstance? No, it would not be wrong in any way. Would it be good to do it? Yes, it would absolutely be a good thing to do. But the point is: It is not really a sacrifice. We might trade a few moments of inconvenience, but we really wouldn’t be doing without to give. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not being critical of this act, it would be the right thing to do.
The point in all this is to impact the way we think about giving. At least part of the point Jesus was making was that in God’s economy the bottom line is not the same as that in men’s accounting. Let us not be proud and think more highly of our giving than we ought to think. Let us also be ready to give when it has to come out of our want (2 Corinthians 8:2) and not just out of our abundance.