When Less is More – Lesson of the Widow’s Mite

     Open-air shops and restaurants dotted the street nearby the hotel where we stayed, just inside the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem. Shopkeepers invited—some with great insistence, “Come, come, visit my shop.” One shopkeeper was particularly persistent.

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     The guy was loaded with personality, but I admit, the thought went through my head, my dad would have said he was “full of “baloney.” I knew I was being bamboozled. The jewelry he hyped wasn’t worth anywhere what he was trying to convince us it was worth. Nevertheless, when he showed me a pair of little earrings, I think both of us, as well as my husband, realized a sale was pending. We exited the business eventually, with the earrings and minus a sum of shekles!

     Here’s the irony in this scene. The jewelry was a pair of widow’s mite earrings! The purpose of the story of the widow’s mite in Scripture is the antithesis of a gullible tourist who allows her emotional sentiments to succumb to a pushy salesperson and ends up spending her resources impulsively.

     No, the woman in Scripture was an example of one who loved God so deeply that she gave all! Here’s the biblical account of the widow’s mite, quoted from Mark 12:41-44 NKJV:

 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…  So He called His disciples…and said, “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.”

     The story of the widow’s mite is one of my favorites and was fresh on my mind when we entered the persistent shopkeeper’s store. A few hours earlier we received a birds-eye view of the temple. Jane, our guide, had pointed out the treasury receptacle where the timid little widow gave ‘her whole livelihood.”

     This story is the perfect example of scriptural paradox, and God’s paradox intrigues me! I like the way Ann Voskamp describes it. “In the upside-down kingdom of heaven, down is up and up is down, and those who want to ascend higher must descend lower.”[1]

     Jesus used the story of the widow’s mite to teach his disciples an important principle. The illustration taught them, and is a reminder to me every time I hear it, that generosity in God’s eyes isn’t about the quantity of my gift but rather about the quality of my heart when I give the gift.

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     I tried to imagine how the widow felt when she threw her two mites into the impressive offering receptacle located in the temple. Was she frightened and timid? Was she bold, her jaw set with firm resolve? Whatever her demeanor, Jesus recognized her heart’s motivation was to give all she had to God.

     I feel no condemnation regarding my interaction with the slick Israeli shopkeeper and my purchase of the earrings. The incident causes me to chuckle and makes for a great story. I’m generally much more circumspect about purchases. I’m an avid bargain shopper. We always purchase used cars. The ability to take our trip to Israel required a consistent pattern of saving, and even a bit of penny pinching.

     Yet, this story serves as a sober reminder about being a woman whose heart of giving pleases God.

     One of my core values is “Generosity.” I would like a generous spirit to be a distinguishable quality of my character. I try living generously, but because God chose—as well as blessed—me to live in a 21st Century U.S. culture, I must be aware consistently of the pitfalls. It’s easy to be duped into thinking giving generously in man’s eyes is equivalent to living generously in God’s eyes when it’s not.

     In God’s kingdom, where less may be more, and in a culture that screams constantly I deserve, “more, more, more,” I need to be challenged often by this story of the widow’s generous heart toward God, illustrated by her sacrificial giving.

     Perhaps wearing the cute little widow’s mite earrings will help remind me!

     My prayer for each of us this day is that we’ll be challenged to live generously with open hands and hearts…

Sue Reeve

  1. One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp, p. 170

    Note: For more information about your own trip to Israel, we recommend highly Dan and Sharon Stolbarger, our group leaders. If this is a trip you’d love to make, check them out at http://holygroundexplorations.com/

    H:\Israel Book\Israel Book Jerusalem 2\DSC_2276.JPG

    Here our group navigates its way slowly through a busy market in an Arab Quarter in Jerusalem.

When Less is More – Lesson of the Widow’s Mite

Open-air shops and restaurants dotted the street nearby the hotel where we stayed, just inside the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem. Shopkeepers invited—some with great insistence, “Come, come, visit my shop.” One shopkeeper was particularly persistent.

H:\Israel Book\Israel Book Jerusalem 2\DSC_1750.JPG

The guy was loaded with personality, but I admit, the thought went through my head, my dad would have said he was “full of “baloney.” I knew I was being bamboozled. The jewelry he hyped wasn’t worth anywhere what he was trying to convince us it was worth. Nevertheless, when he showed me a pair of little earrings, I think both of us, as well as my husband, realized a sale was pending. We exited the business eventually, with the earrings and minus a sum of shekles!

Here’s the irony in this scene. The jewelry was a pair of widow’s mite earrings! The purpose of the story of the widow’s mite in Scripture is the antithesis of a gullible tourist who allows her emotional sentiments to succumb to a pushy salesperson and ends up spending her resources impulsively.

No, the woman in Scripture was an example of one who loved God so deeply that she gave all! Here’s the biblical account of the widow’s mite, quoted from Mark 12:41-44 NKJV:

 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…  So He called His disciples…and said, “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.”

The story of the widow’s mite is one of my favorites and was fresh on my mind when we entered the persistent shopkeeper’s store. A few hours earlier we received a birds-eye view of the temple. Jane, our guide, had pointed out the treasury receptacle where the timid little widow gave ‘her whole livelihood.”

This story is the perfect example of scriptural paradox, and God’s paradox intrigues me! I like the way Ann Voskamp describes it. “In the upside-down kingdom of heaven, down is up and up is down, and those who want to ascend higher must descend lower.”[1]

Jesus used the story of the widow’s mite to teach his disciples an important principle. The illustration taught them, and is a reminder to me every time I hear it, that generosity in God’s eyes isn’t about the quantity of my gift but rather about the quality of my heart when I give the gift.

H:\Israel Book\Israel Book Jerusalem 1\DSC_1261.JPG

I tried to imagine how the widow felt when she threw her two mites into the impressive offering receptacle located in the temple. Was she frightened and timid? Was she bold, her jaw set with firm resolve? Whatever her demeanor, Jesus recognized her heart’s motivation was to give all she had to God.

I feel no condemnation regarding my interaction with the slick Israeli shopkeeper and my purchase of the earrings. The incident causes me to chuckle and makes for a great story. I’m generally much more circumspect about purchases. I’m an avid bargain shopper. We always purchase used cars. The ability to take our trip to Israel required a consistent pattern of saving, and even a bit of penny pinching.

Yet, this story serves as a sober reminder about being a woman whose heart of giving pleases God.

One of my core values is “Generosity.” I would like a generous spirit to be a distinguishable quality of my character. I try living generously, but because God chose—as well as blessed—me to live in a 21st Century U.S. culture, I must be aware consistently of the pitfalls. It’s easy to be duped into thinking giving generously in man’s eyes is equivalent to living generously in God’s eyes when it’s not.

In God’s kingdom, where less may be more, and in a culture that screams constantly I deserve, “more, more, more,” I need to be challenged often by this story of the widow’s generous heart toward God, illustrated by her sacrificial giving.

Perhaps wearing the cute little widow’s mite earrings will help remind me!

My prayer for each of us this day is that we’ll be challenged to live generously with open hands and hearts…

Sue Reeve

  1. One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp, p. 170

    Note: For more information about your own trip to Israel, we recommend highly Dan and Sharon Stolbarger, our group leaders. If this is a trip you’d love to make, check them out at http://holygroundexplorations.com/

    H:\Israel Book\Israel Book Jerusalem 2\DSC_2276.JPG

    Here our group navigates its way slowly through a busy market in an Arab Quarter in Jerusalem.

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One thought on “When Less is More – Lesson of the Widow’s Mite

  1. An old radio preacher once told the story of the “widows mite.” A little country church was in dire need of repairs. They decided to have a “special” fund raiser. As the basket was passed for extra monies, one very well to do man said, “I am giving the widow’s mite.” The usher started running up and down the aisles, shouting jubilantly, “Our worries are over, Mr. so and so is giving his ALL!”

    Thanks for the blog. Another blessing

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