November 8, 2009 - The Poor Widow

In Mark 12:41-44, we read the following account of the poor widow:

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."

If it weren’t for Jesus’ observance of individuals putting money into the Temple treasury, and His decision to commend her to the disciples, we would probably know nothing of this poor widow.  But Jesus chose to make an example of her.  A good example of a woman whose heart was right with God, as evidenced by an action that could only be judged properly by God Himself. 

Actually, the Temple didn’t need the widow’s two copper coins.  But God was pleased with her gift; her attitude of worship; her selflessness; her complete trust in the Lord to provide for her bodily needs when she relinquished her last material possessions to Him.  As a widow she already understood the sting of death.  Maybe she thought she had nothing to lose if she were to die and join her husband in Abraham’s bosom.  At the very least she showed an unequivocal confidence in her heavenly Father, the one to whom she could freely give her all.  This display of confidence is still an example and blessing to those who read about it in the Gospel of Mark.

I’m not sure if the churches in Macedonia knew about the poor widow, but St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (8:1-5) notes how they had a similar spirit:

 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

 Thanks be to God for the poor widow and the Macedonians, and for the encouragement that these examples of trust in God have brought to so many, from the time of Jesus Christ until now!