As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:38-44, NRSV)
I love this reading. It is the scripture lesson I preached the first sermon I ever preached to a call committee.
Beware of men in long flowing white robes! I read and talked about as I wore a long flowing white robe!
We read this passage, I said then and still believe, as a stewardship passage. We are supposed to give every last cent to God. And I do not say no to this notion, however, I think Jesus was more than holding this woman up as a model to live by. I think Jesus was and is tearing down religious systems that put people in a place where they feel they have to give everything they have in order to be in the right.
Jesus would never ask us to give something to get something, and sometimes it seems that the system is doing just that.
We do not have to give anything to earn God’s love, or to be in the right with God. His love should so overflow in our lives that we just naturally give everything.
But this passage makes me think this widow didn’t feel like she had a choice. She had to give it all to be there, where others could give a little, she had to give it all. And we are here to help the poor, not to hold them down more.
So love like Jesus and allow His love to move you, but do not feel compelled to give to get somethings, because the greatest gift of all can not be bought.