Monday, July 7, 2008

Discussing Widow w/2 Coins

It was Tuesday of the week Christ would be crucified. Jesus was at the temple. He had been there the day before, and was upset to see people selling things, turning the temple into a marketplace where they could make money. It was then that He famously overturned their tables in anger and sent them away.

The temple was to be a place of prayer and giving to God. It was not to be a place where people earned money for themselves by tempting others to spend their offering money before they could give it to God. Or, by short-changing people who needed to convert their currency to Jewish coins to make their offering.

Note: By New Testament times there were multiple coins in use: Roman coins (denarius), Greek coins (drachma, farthing), and Jewish coins (mite, pound, shekel, talent). The mite was a thin copper coin made of a poor grade of copper or bronze. It held the least value among the coins.

People poured into the temple from all over to offer their sacrifices by dropping coins into the trumpet-shaped chests along the walls of the temple court.

I imagine if you were wealthy and had lots to give, it could take you awhile to drop all your money in the top of that trumpet-shaped chest, especially if you dropped them just one coin at a time. Cha-chingching ... chingching-chingching ... chingching-ching. It would be obvious that you were putting much in as you stood there depositing coins, maybe even holding up the line for a minute until you were done.

It would also be obvious you were giving much by the type of coins you used. I served food for tips while in college. Sometimes my tip jar would seem full, yet when counted out, it would not amount to much as most of the coins were pennies or nickels and not quarters. I was always glad to see large, silver coins going into that jar rather than small copper ones! You could see who was giving much to God by the coins they were using.

On this Tuesday, Jesus was sitting across the way, in the section called the Court of Women, observing the scene as people gave their offerings to the treasury. The Bible tells us He saw many rich people putting in large sums. Let’s be honest, many religious leaders would be thrilled about this fact. It would mean a large total, guaranteeing that the temple would “meet budget.” And of course a well-funded temple can do many good things. It would also seem that God would be well honored by that day’s big offering, right? Yipee, lots of money raised for God!

We’re always impressed by large amounts of money and equate it with success. But God is impressed by a large heart — that’s His measure of success.

Jesus noticed a poor widow drop two small, low-value coins into the offering. Ching-ching. It probably took her two seconds to drop those two measly mites in and walk away. However, in Jesus’ eyes, she'd just dropped the equivalent of 2,000 mites into that chest! It was an offering He couldn't miss.

If you have a loaf of bread and you and your neighbor are both hungry, is it very difficult to break off a piece and share it with her? But if you have only one slice of bread, and you and your neighbor are both hungry …

Jesus got really excited about this woman’s tiny offering. In fact, He didn’t point out any of the big donors to His disciples – as we probably would’ve done – but He called them over to notice her. It’s not that Jesus wasn’t pleased with the wealthy people’s large donations; He was. It’s just that He knew it wasn’t as much of a sacrifice for them. They had plenty of money to meet all of their needs, afford many of their desires, and to give to the temple. Plus, they had the ability to easily earn piles more. Not so for a poor widow.

Jesus explains to His disciples that the widow had actually given the most that day because the others gave out of their surplus, or their plenty. The Hebrew word here is perisseuso, which means “excess” or “leftover” money. This widow did not have any excess or leftover money. Yet she gave what she had ...

Because the temple is to be a place of giving to God.

Our hearts are actually the temple of the Lord.


If you back up and read the passage right before this widow’s story, you’ll see that Jesus wanted to teach His followers to pay attention to motives, and not just actions. In Mark 12:38-40 Jesus said, “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.”

So it’s not just about how much we give, or how long we pray. Though giving much and praying much are noble actions. It’s also about the sacrifice involved and the motive for doing it. This widow shows us that pure motives and a willing sacrifice are worth millions in the kingdom of God. She didn’t give for show, but God himself saw and commended her. I wonder if she ever knew He saw that.

Do you give? Or, were you convinced before reading her story that you didn’t have enough extra money to give? I fall into the trap of thinking that at times. If God is speaking to your heart to give a gift in faith, check out the two Christian, non-profit organizations in my sidebar, or give to your local church. But don’t give because I’m encouraging you to – only give out of a pure motive of a true desire to show God your love and obedience. And don’t tell us that you gave – let that be for God alone to see.

Even if we are not poor widows lacking in extra money to give away, chances are there is some area of our life that we feel “poor” in. Where are you lacking “excess” or “leftover?” Are you lacking in hospitality? Are you lacking in willpower – to fast, to lose weight, to exercise, to stop spending money? Are you lacking in patience with others? Are you lacking in discipline… maybe to hold your tongue, or to serve your husband? Are you lacking time to call or visit that person you keep meaning to talk with? Are you lacking excess energy at the end of the day to pray or read about God? Where are you feeling “poor?”

Let’s try, like this widow, giving out of our places of lack with a pure heart, as an offering to God. Let’s not worry with how small the amount seems compared to others, or how silly the non-monetary gift seems compared to a gift of money. Let’s just give … because just a few days after watching the widow give all she had to live on in the temple, Jesus went to the cross and gave His all for us. Let’s give because the temple of the Lord – our heart – is to be a place of giving.

Care to share your two-cents worth on this woman's story?

(sorry, the word-geek in me couldn't resist the pun!)


  1. Love this passage of scripture. His Word is truly and forever alive! And love your insights. Thank you, Rachel.

    "God, who knows the heart...purified their hearts by faith." Acts 15:8-9



  2. The end of your study made me really reflect on what I'm poor in at this moment. I believe it's discipline, Rachel. I am struggling to complete a summer Bible study that I'm leading in 2 weeks...hmm, could be I'm just not spending the time and the right time of day pulling together resources,establishing objectives, ssetting goals to complete the study. Thanks, friend! My goal tonight is to put in some quality time with Jesus, my resources, and me--no children or computer :).

  3. Oh, this is what I needed to read today. Thank you so much for sharing your "2 cents worth". LOL
    No, I truly thank you for making me accountable. I truly look forward to your study and am always going to your blog to see if you've given me any more "homework". I realize I could do this on my own, and I do spend time doing my daily bible reading, but I learn so much from you and the other ladies that post here. Working everyday, I'm envious of the women that get to attend morning bible studies during the week, so I really love doing this bible study online.
    This particular study spoke to me in my daily life as a wife, as a woman in the workforce, as a friend, and as a Christian woman. Thank you for helping me grow and to strive daily to give more of myself in different areas in my life.
    Sharron in Louisiana

  4. Wow! Gives you a lot to think about. There are so many ways we can give to God and I must admit that I'm sure I don't give all that I can and I'm not just talking about money (that I do) but you named so many other areas that I could give to God.
    Thanks, Rachel, for your wisdom and insight,

  5. I was so moved with this study. I have such a hard time giving in church, not because I don't want to but because I can't give one-tenth, I just don't have it. I hate constantly saying that my husband is on disability and I am the only one who is no excuse...I get down on myself because I feel like I am lacking in my giving and so much more.

    This really humbled me. Lately I have been "poor" in a few things that the Lord is showing me. My quiet time is the big one. I can't function in the morning before work so when I get to work I am the only one here for a while, I then have my quiet time and I love it...but He has been tugging at my heart and I know I need to meet the Lord first thing..its so hard. I also believe that I am lacking in discipline...but maybe that does come hand in hand with the issues of my quiet time too. My counselor told me a great way to reach out to my "Father" in the morning is to thank Him for everything the first minute I get up..the beautiful day, my health, waking up, etc. Then I can read and such at work later. I have a tendency to beat myself up a lot and my relationship with the Lord is so important. He wants us to talk to can we succeed in life without His wisdom, mercy and grace that is FREE!

    Rachel I love when you said "Lets just give...just a few days after watching the widow give all she had to live on..Jesus gave His all for us"! What a beautiful thing to meditate on! With everything in the world going on these days we have a tendency to loose, basically, our minds and forget how Jesus gave everything for us. Like you said our heart is the first place of giving..Praise his name!

    Thank you for a great study and for allowing me to see where I am "poor" and yet "rich" at the same time..You've given me such a need to go onto my blog and write what is also on my heart and hopefully I can reach others like you always do.
    Love Donna

  6. Rachelll,
    You sure spoke this one out didn't ya!! We were just talking about this at our church.. My hubby and I try really hard to be the cheerful giver. We give and then some. But I know I have so much more to give.

    The Bible says;
    2Corinthians 9:6
    6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

    Phil 4:19
    19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

    We have to give from our hearts, not just because. We have to do things because we want(from the heart) not just because. We must become CHEERFUL GIVERS!

    I lack in the will power for myself, I should think alittle more of myself. I need to do all of the above, lose weight, exercise, stopppp spending money.. hahaha yep thats meee! :)

    But you know the part where Jesus is watching (was watching her) ooh my he is watching us as well. He sees what we give what we do, and how we act.
    Love this woman, no wonder the world knows more about the poor widow than about the richest man in Jerusalem in her day.

    Thanks again Rachel, for a Lesson that we all can put our 2 cents worth in.
    Huggggsss & Blessings to all

  7. Rachel I love this lesson and always have. You gave me more insight on it however and that is good, thank you. I am a give too much at times and need to learn the balance. However, I am working on giving more attention to my weight and my tongue so this is a great encouragement to keep going.
    Be Blessed

  8. Rachel,
    I love how this teaches us what God is really looking at. When He asks us to tithe, its nothing about the money, but all about our hearts and what is in them. Since He is the only one that can see inside of them He knows our motives behind the give.
    Great post Rachel!

  9. The Widow Offering
    She teaches us what it means to live in true faith and trust in the God we serve. She demonstrated complete devotion to God for she gave her all and she gave it from the heart. She teaches us God looks at the heart, and He looks at what I possess. What do I offer Him; do I give Him from my excess? Do I give sacrificially as the woman did? Do my giving cost me anything? Will I give to God when I am down to my all? Most of us don’t give our very last because we live in fear, we truly don’t trust God as we say- it takes a lot to give my last $50.00 when it will pay a bill due tomorrow. Do I not know God will be there tomorrow to meet my need? Yes I know that but do I really believe it, do I believe it enough to give Him my last? “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This widow didn’t have to ask this question. She knew God would do what He said He would do- He would supply all her needs.
    Other Lessons
    Jesus sees my offerings-He knows what I have and He knows if I have given my best and my all. This applies not only to my money but to my time, talents and life. Even when I am giving what I feel may not be worth a lot to the kingdom-to God it can be a lot if it what He has given me to give. I may feel I am offering little to the Kingdom, or my little may not make a difference but to God it may be a lot if it is what He has given to me to give, if I am being obedient to His commands.
    The widow teaches what it really means to trust and believe in God. To walk without any doubt and my little can be lot and god only requires what I have.

    Rachel thinks so very much for giving me another area to look at because with your words I realize that there are a number of areas in which I live in lack and need to increasing my giving, the desire is there but unlike the poor widow I don’t put it in the offering for the Lord. I find myself in the same place as a number of others ladies who previously comment. This study certainly helps us to see we are not alone in our struggles.

  10. Good morning ladies,

    Although this was an extremely short story, it was definitely power-packed, and a lesson that we can all benefit from.

    With today's outrageous prices it grows increasingly harder to meet our tithes. Rachel's words of wisdom are so true ~ give what we can of what we do have ~ be it our talents, our love, our kind words, our offers of assistance, our tears, a ride, food, water, hospitality, labor, our time, a shoulder to cry on, or just lending an ear.

    I try to give a smile to everyone I have eye contact with, a compliment or kind word to anyone that I have an opportunity to share a word with, and always hold the door open for those behind me, or coming out ahead of me. You'd be surprised what a difference it can make in someone's day. Everyone we see has a problem in some area of their life, and you never know, that one moment that you share a "random act of kindness" might just be the determining factor in how that particular person handles their individual problem. Perhaps it could stop someone with suicidal thoughts from following through with the act, or force someone having a sad or difficult day to smile back. It not only feeds the recipient's soul, it feeds ours as the giver, especially if we are having a difficult day ourselves. If you just ask yourself each day, "What can I do to be a blessing to others today", and then focus on that throughout the day, it soon will become a permanent habit and you will subconsciously be throwing blessings right and left without a second thought! Give it a try ~ it works wonders.....especially if someone has a grumpy look on their face and you walk up and pay them a compliment, they can't help but smile back at you (often with a startled look or hint of embarrassment) and your heart puts on a great big grin. Wonderful food for the soul and pleasing to our Lord. (I personally seek out the "grumps" wherever I go, it really makes my heart sing to watch the transformation on their faces and to think that maybe something so simple may have made them look at life a little differently, if only for a moment! After all, moments lead to minutes, minutes lead to hours, hours lead to days, etc, etc, etc.)

    So glad your back Rach, I have really missed your comments.

    My prayers are with all of you in need.

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Bonners Ferry, ID

  11. Hi Racheal and sisters,
    This was reaLLY POWERFUL. I am poor in a lot of ways right now. Most importantly is my prayer life ( quiet time with God). I just never seem to have time in the mornings and so bust and tired that i only manage to say my prayers lying down in bed before i doze off.
    I have not had peace for a while about it. I miss God. I miss praying, just cant seem to summon up the enrgy needed.
    It's even clearer to me now that it's more important to God when we give our all to Him inspite of DISCOMFORT OR INCONVINIENCE than otherwise. Will remind myself of this tonite when i feel too tired or lazy to pray.

    You guys keep me in ur prayers for a revival okay?
    Thanks all

  12. What a strong faith the woman had. I'm so weak at this point in my life, I pray God uses me like He used the woman to encourage and bless those around me. To life them up and praise Him for glory.


  13. Dear Ladies,

    You have all given such good insights and I once again can see God working in each of you. We are all poor in spirit at times. In this hectic life we lead, it is often hard to give of our time; and as many of you have stated, it is also increasingly hard to give monetarily too. But I have personal faith and experience that God provides. My faith statement is Matthew 6:25-34:

    Do Not Worry
    25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
    28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    When I was a single Mom, several years back, I was at the end of my financial rope. I was attending church regularly and I was struggling with tithing. I felt God prompt me to tithe. "Give to God first" was the message I heard over and over again in my heart. So I tithed. I wrote the check every Sunday with absolutely no idea how I would pay my bills, but God provided miraculously. Through bonuses, raises, tax refunds, etc. the money was there to make the bills and always just in time. I could not believe it, but this has stayed with me ever since.

    God also provides time. I spend my quiet time with Him every morning and every night. I used to be too busy. I used to be too harried. I worked myself ill and then my family needed too much of me. I was a mess. But God showed me these verses too:

    Isaiah 38: 4-8
    4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.

    7 " 'This is the LORD's sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.' " So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.

    God can make the sun go backwards in the sky! How great is that! So He will give you time if you make time for Him. And He will take your worries away, and He will make your burdens light. Give to Him first; your time, your talent, your gifts, and He will return to you ten-fold all you give.

    Be Blessed,

    Karen, CA

  14. Thank you so much!! I really loved the word and how you expounded on it! Praise GOD for you! I used to feel so guilty because I didn't have the "plenty" to give for offering, but after reading the scripture, I learned that the "plenty" is not what pleased GOD. I gathered that she had to have had a great faith to sacrifice and give her last. I can imagine what she needed to do or pay with those 2 mites, but because of the love of GOD she gave it to HIM. Her last. Her little bit which was her all. Remarkable!


  15. When my husband & I were in Israel two years ago, I asked if he would buy me a widow's mite necklace for my birthday (it was all I asked for the entire trip :) His response was, "Why? You're not a widow." I think some men skip over the "women stuff" but obviously he missed the hidden treaure in this message! After explaining about the widow who gave all she had, my husband went back to read the story again.

    I must confess to a certain selfishness in enjoying "the excess"... after all, God received the "first fruit" so the rest is mine to spend as I want, right? Let me say, it has been a long process of transforming my mind(set).

    I've learned the value of having excess available so that when a need arises I am able to respond to the Holy Spirit's prompting to assist another in need. And it's not just money... if I keep my house up as I go, then I'm ready to extend hospitality on a moment's notice. Using my time wisely allows me to be available when a friend needs a shoulder.

    I'm learning that one mite is enough, but the "excess" mite compounds daily in God's blessings!

    Susan VA

    PS I did get the necklace for my birthday - and I love wearing this reminder to surrender my all, because He gave His all for me.

  16. I feel ....humbled and ashamed, not because I don’t give, but because I could do more with what I have.... Not just money but time, talents and abilities. I also was just doing the whining that I sometimes accuse my nephews and nieces of doing, something goes wrong and my reaction is "..God why?!...". but, after reading Rachel’s comment, I feel kinda silly, because even if there is no money to fix the car, I have food and I can owe the mechanic who is a good friend, I also have the luxury of being able to arrange for someone to take me to work etc.... this woman gave even though she couldn’t see beyond what she gave ...!! When will my heart get there? Lord help me ... help us, to see beyond our circumstances to see You and still be able to find joy and hope.

  17. Rachel

    A lot of insight's and to think about ...Thank you so much for that

    And i read them on the right moment God is so good ....
    He is bringing me frequently to check and think more about what i do or put my heart on......
    I'm automatically more a person who love to rationalize...think things over discuss etc. I love to be "in my head" ( Hope you can follow me where i come from b/c it is difficult to put it in words..esp in another language...)
    And God is transforming me to put first/ my focus more on my heart to fill it with Him to give ALL to Him so my mind can be lead.....
    So now you bring me to see giving out of what i have esp in my heart.......
    Thanks Rachel blessings...

  18. AnonymousJuly 11, 2008

    I needed this right now. I'm feeling poor in so many areas of life right now, and need to look to serving instead of being served. Thank you for this Bible Study.

    RV in MN

  19. AnonymousJuly 16, 2008

    I have been away for a while and am just catching up. This passage and your words, Rachel, speak to me as well. I can only imagine how sad and frustrating it must be for God that we read His word, accept His word and yet still fall into the same sinful traps time and time again. I am thankful that He is infinitely patient for I, too, am poor in many areas. I pray that I become rich like this wonderful woman who gave her treasure of two mites.

  20. this made me think about prayer. i have probably too much time on my hands. even though i have a full time job, i am not married and have no children. there's no one that i need to care for, so when i pray i am praying out of the plenty of time i have and i'm not that generous. on the other hand, there are people who have lots going on in there lives and yet they still use what little time they have to pray. prayer like that is a blessing

  21. AnonymousJuly 20, 2008

    Still catching up!
    For me personally, this spoke of other things than finances. I to often compare what I can contribute spiritually to the great things that I see others doing or praying. I often feel so small, and often don't know what to pray when I've thought other's prayers were so awesome and right on target. It's an idol, I know. I confess that right now. Yes, God is using them in prayer, but He will have something else for me to pray. If I am so in awe of their prayers, I cannot hear what God wants to speak to my heart to pray about. God, please forgive me, and make my heart right before you. In Jesus name, amen.

    Connie, Canada


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