It all began with the little old, two-coin woman
This week at church we read from Luke 21:1–4. In case, like me, you can’t remember, this is the parable about the widow’s offering. She gave only two coins. But they were her last two coins—the lesson being that in proportion to means, she gave more than the wealthy men.
At first the message seems clear: give everything you can. You rich people out there, empty out those pockets because those with less are making you look bad. And let’s face it, we’re all rich compared to someone else.
But let’s be realistic. Not many of us are going to give all we have and trust that God will refill our pockets. I’ve come to terms with this reading. I’ve learned to give or donate just a little more than my first impulse. For example, if I’m walking into Walmart to do a little Christmas shopping, and the Salvation Army worker is by the door ringing his or her bell, I open my wallet and reach for that dollar bill. I notice that it’s tucked in there with a five. So very quickly, before reconsidering what else I could use that five dollars for, I pull it out and stuff it in the bucket before my other hand can stop me.
But the Christmas season is over and Lent has begun. And I don’t think that’s the only message here.
Lent is a time of fasting—fasting for spiritual growth. Giving something up so we can be filled. Taking a closer look at that Bible verse, I asked myself, when the woman gave her last two coins, what was her purpose? These days when we give money, our intention is to help those less fortunate than us. But this woman was the less fortunate. She was part of the population we are hoping to help. What did she imagine her money would be used for?
She was giving it to the church and therefore to God’s purpose. Jesus taught using parables and metaphors. I wonder if in this scenario, money is a metaphor for what we have—our gifts. She gave more than was comfortable. She gave to fill a need in others. What can I give?
In modern times, with so much activity in our lives, time is more valuable than money. We can always make more money, but time is a one-way currency. When I give someone an hour of my day, it’s gone, forever. One could argue that at midnight, time resets itself and I have a brand new 24 hours to spend. That’s true, but that hour from yesterday wasn’t used to fill my need, it went to fill someone else’s. Someone else received something because I gave something up. Even better, with the new day now I have more to give.
Which brings me to my next point. The Holy Trinity.
No, this is not a new topic; bear with me. A very dear and wise friend of mine explained that the Trinity is a beautiful flow of emptying and refilling. Jesus gives and is refilled by the Holy Spirit through God. They are one continuous spiritual cycle of love.
We are constantly receiving from the Lord, too many things to list. What gifts have you received from the Lord? Aside from the obvious—family, friends, our needs being filled—we have personal gifts, strengths from the Lord. Are we using these to their full potential? Are we looking at giving in terms of an earthly perspective or from a perspective of godly gifts of love? Open your personal treasury of gifts and consider what you have to give. But remember, God loves you just as much as everyone else. Be kind to yourself. You can’t pour tea from an empty teapot.
Likewise, He doesn’t want you giving solely because you feel compelled as a Christian to give.
Make your giving out of love, not only because you are supposed to give. It’s the cornerstone of Jesus’ command to love one another. When you give with genuine love for others, you are blessed as well, knowing you have truly given yourself up for the Lord.
Now, doesn’t that feel better?