The widow’s mite and me (and you)

by Kevin Birnbaum

On Monday night I reread the famous Gospel passage about the widow’s mite:

And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mk 12:41-44)

The widow’s offering is more valuable, more beautiful, because of the generosity of it, the totality of it. It is also a gesture of great trust—the widow relinquishes all control of her life and gives everything to God.

The story is both a challenge and a comfort. It challenges us to likewise give all that we have to God—not only money, but also our time and our talent. How often do we fail to trust God with the whole of our lives?

But it’s also a comfort for those, like me, who don’t have much to offer. It doesn’t matter if we’re not rich, or particularly talented. It doesn’t matter if our contributions have no measurable effect on the world around us. If we trust God and sincerely offer him all that we have, all that we are, he will be well pleased.

P.S. I’d been thinking about this all week, and then today I saw some of my thoughts rather neatly and nerdily summed up at one of my favorite blogs, Disputations:

Wealth we possess or store up is potential love. Wealth we spend or consume is kinetic love. Our good deeds, including our use of wealth for our good and the good of others, are always in the mind of God; rightly-ordered kinetic love lasts forever as treasure in heaven.

The metric that matters to God is our kinetic love divided by our potential love (“to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more”).

Photo by Stricklins.
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