As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”Luke 21:1–4
Do you remember the original email refrain, “You’ve got mail!”? My role at Willow includes receiving the mail directed to our Prison, Jail & Re-entry Ministry. And, wow, every time I check the mail slot, I say, “We’ve got mail!”
We receive hundreds of letters a year from the incarcerated. Most are beautiful, sincere letters of thanks; some are prayer requests; and others are skillfully-crafted pieces of artwork, poetry, and heartfelt testimonies. But the letters that surprise me most are the ones that include checks. Yes, we receive checks from incarcerated individuals every week. The amounts vary, but most range from three to ten dollars—a generous gift from people whose monthly wage is less than most children receive as a weekly allowance.
As I hold these checks in my hand, I feel like I’m on holy ground. I come face-to-face with the widow’s mite—a generous gift given out of pure motives and a simple faithfulness. A recent letter from a young man said, “This is my first tithe check ever, and I wanted this church to have it. Thank you for remembering us in prison.” Another letter said, “I’m sorry that my check is going from five dollars to three dollars. I’ve been moved from my job in the kitchen.” I am constantly inspired by these letters—their simplicity and their gravity. Would I have the faith to give three dollars, knowing that my job could be snatched away at a moment’s notice?
The story of the widow’s mite challenges the way we look at things. We’re reminded of several sobering truths:
- God sees what we overlook. The widow had little-to-no value in the eyes of the other givers, but God saw her and knew her motives. Her story of generosity lives on through the ages.
- God’s measuring scales are different from ours. The dollar amount matters little if there is no love or sacrifice behind the gift.
- God seeks our faithfulness. Are we going to trust Him to provide for our needs when finances or circumstances are shaky at best?
Sometimes, I don’t think I can ever give enough or measure up to God’s standard. But He looks at the heart, and somehow, because of His love and faithfulness, my “widow’s mite”—and yours—is enough.
- Have you ever been given a gift that meant denying yourself and going without? How did it feel?
- In what area of your life is God challenging your motives? Does it involve your money, time, or possessions?