Scripture Reading: Leviticus 13:1-59 / Mark 12:28-44 / Proverbs 6:20-29
There are people in the world who give millions if not billions to charities and humanitarian causes. Microsoft founder and chairman, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda led the list of the “biggest givers” in 2012 by donating $1.9 billion to charities. They have given a total of $28 billion during their lifetime! The second biggest giver is investor Warren Buffett who gave $1.87 billion to charities.
Those numbers are staggering and certainly praise worthy as millions of people have been helped by their generosity. Yet when we look closer, their large donations are not a true measurement of their generosity. They gave billions of dollars but Bill and Melinda Gates only gave 2.6% of their yearly wealth while Warren Buffett gave 3.2% of his wealth. They gave much but it was a small fraction to what they could have given. Their generosity wasn’t very generous.
Jesus was in the temple and watched the crowd put their offerings in 13 bronze tapered chests. The money was used to meet the needs of the priests and the poor. No one was obligated to contribute but Jesus saw many rich people put in large amounts and a poor widow woman who put in 2 small coins worth only a fraction of a penny. Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” (Mark 12:43)
This poor woman who lived in obscurity got the attention of Jesus. He praised her as the greatest giver…not the amount but the depth of giving. She gave with a generous and humble heart. Her motive was not to be recognized by man but to simply be part of God’s benevolent ministry. The crowd saw the abundance of money given by the rich and heard the coins reverberate the walls of the bronze chests. The widow’s small coins barely made a sound but they were heard throughout heaven!
This widow who was poor herself gave to those who were poor. She should have been the recipient of those treasury funds but instead of receiving them, she gave them. Some of the greatest givers in our church have been those who give much despite the little or lack of funds. The never say, “I don’t have anything to give… I need every penny to live on… Let someone else give who has it to give.” They consider it an honor and a joy to give because they consider themselves blessed by God! The standard of giving isn’t “how much we give” but “how much we keep”.
The giving of the rich did not affect their lifestyle, comfort of pocketbook. “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” (v.44) She left the temple with no money but had all the riches she would ever need… the favor of God and the riches of heaven! Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and this widow woman….she is the greatest giver and the richest! How about you?