Lately, people have been posing the question, "What would you do if you won the Mega Millions Jackpot?" And most reply that they would whole-heartedly consider giving a large amount to charity. But I wonder if we shouldn't wait to win the lottery before we become so generous... and it reminded me of this post from last June.
Darling Ethiopian Princess with Her Treasured Toy
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.
Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,
worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said,
“I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth;
but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—
all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44 NIV
I grew up in what I considered poverty. Some nights dinner consisted of cold cereal. No milk. Just cereal. And it was the non-brand kind. Bills would go unpaid. Eviction would be threatened. We would hide from the newspaper delivery boy when he would show up at the door requiring payment.
But in a few days or the next day, it would be pay day. And we would go to the grocery store and eat out for dinner at Gino's and get our hair cut and maybe go to a movie that weekend. And pay our rent. And a couple bills. But not necessarily the newspaper delivery boy.
My sis and I grew up with a single mom. During a time when dads could get away without paying their child support. We didn't have a car. I wore hand me downs. And there were even times we might "borrow" things (like toilet paper rolls) from establishments, but never repay them.
I thought we were poor. And compared to the American dream... we were.
When my mom married my step-father in my junior year of high school. I started receiving allowance. Weekly. $20. (And there was ALWAYS food in the kitchen... and clothes with tags still attached in the closets... and toilet paper. The brand name kind.)
And it was then, that I started tithing. I don't remember ever tithing before that time. $2 every week. Went right into the offering. And when I started working, I would tithe on those paychecks. And when Anthony and I got married and lived on his one paycheck a month... while I finished college (on scholarships and grants and financial aid)... and we would eat boxed Macaroni and Cheese for dinner, we would tithe. We tithed in what we thought was our poverty.
And before we knew it, we were living the American Dream. Paychecks would come twice a month. We could purchase meat to go with the Macaroni and Cheese. And we would tithe. But now our giving was out of our wealth.
We may think we need to be wealthy to be significant givers. We think... when I have money then I will bless those around me. I will be the one doing the blessing. But isn't that kind of the American dream? We think that if we are able to give more that somehow we are more significant. Or beneficial to the kingdom cause. As if God will be more pleased with us, if our gifts are larger than the gifts of others. Than the gifts of those in poverty. But is He?
Here we see Jesus take a seat where he could see (and hear) people dropping their gifts into the temple treasury. And then calls His disciples over to watch... listen... and learn. He didn't even ask them what they thought. He just went on ahead and told them. Wonder why that is? It wasn't even a parable. He just told them flat out... her gift is of more significance. Of more value. Seriously? She put in a fraction of a penny! And they threw in large amounts! Huh?
God is not concerned with the amount that we give. He is concerned with our hearts. Our hearts to give selflessly. Our hearts to give joyfully. Our hearts to give out of obedience and love for Him. He is not waiting for us to get wealthy or win the lottery so that we can give a huge sum of money to starving children or to Ethiopia or to pay off the church debt. He is not waiting.
But He is watching.
Watching His children learn how to trust Him.
In all things.
Whether in perceived poverty... or received wealth.
Will we give what we'll never miss... or will we give our all?
Sitting across from the offering box,
he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection.
Many of the rich were making large contributions.
One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—
a measly two cents.
Jesus called his disciples over and said,
"The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection
than all the others put together.
All the others gave what they'll never miss;
she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—
she gave her all."
Mark 12:41-44 The Message