The Widow's Might - Trans World Radio Canada

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  • Jul14Fri

    The Widow's Might

    July 14, 2017 by TWR Canada Women's Ministry Team
    Filed Under:
    Women of the Bible
    Throughout July, the TWR Women of Hope Prayer Calendar has been lifting up those who struggle with poverty and homelessness to God. There is one woman’s story in the Bible synonymous with poverty —the story of the widow who gave two coins to the treasury. Often this story is called the Widow’s Mite (Luke 21: 1-4 and Mark 12:41-42). A mite is an old word that refers to a coin of little face value. What’s often not emphasized was the might of her faith.

    These stories, because they are small and don’t have any obvious teaching point, more just an observation, are often overlooked yet they are just as inspired and necessary to be understood and applied.  

    Directly preceding this story we read about Jesus teaching in the synagogue and fielding question after question meant to ensnare him or see him arrested by the Roman authorities. The text says he answered so well that no one ventured to ask him any more questions. In that context, Christ turns to his disciples, in the lull of conversation, and warns them to beware of those who love their positions of power and places of honour but who devour widow’s houses; who offer long prayers as though God sanctions their greed and social accommodations.

    He looks across the inner courtyard in the temple called the Court of Women (because women weren’t allowed to go any farther into the temple). Columns ringed this courtyard with a receptacle dedicated to collecting a variety of voluntary offerings at the base of each one. Jesus sees a widow. She would have been poor, because almost all widows were. Without a husband, father or grown son to speak for them, they had no voice, no income; they couldn’t own property.

    He sees this widow drop in two coins, two Roman leptas (the smallest coin denomination, worth about 6 minutes of work each). He praises her for her two small copper coins and says, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them, for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”

    Remember, these were places for voluntary offerings — no rules. Just a moment before, Christ had been criticizing the scribes (the Pharisees and Saducees) for their hypocrisy, for ‘devouring widow’s houses’. These same men decided how to distribute those voluntary donations to the poor and the widowed. These powerful men had all the leverage and she none, but she still was faithful to what she believed she was called to do. Scholars disagree about whether this passage is encouraging people to give until it hurts, as some have interpreted, but regardless — Jesus saw this woman.

    While those in the temple that day may have viewed her as having little value, he knew her situation, what funds she had access to, the personal sacrifice her giving caused her. He saw her obedient heart. He didn’t run over and praise her; in fact, she likely went about the rest of her life never knowing she’d been observed. Christ sees both those who have influence and power, and those who do not. He sees not only how much we give, but how much we give of what we have at our disposal. He sees the state of our heart in that giving.

    In Christ’s eyes, we are all equal. This is the power of the Widow’s story. Though she was lowly, from a human perspective, (she had no power or influence and little money) she was found more faithful than many who had much. Christ sees not only what we possess but also our hearts and motivations.

    Regardless of our power, position or authority, he sees those who are faithful with what they have been given to steward as we learned from the Parable of the Talents. Take heart! Do not fret over what you do or do not have in this life. Jesus sees your heart and will praise your faith before his father. He is storing up a reward for us in eternity. May he find us faithful.

    Photo Credit: IronRodArt - Royce Bair ("Star Shooter")