I’ve never had a problem with speaking on the subject of stewardship. I think the best time to teach on giving is when the church is not in dire straits. There is something about being behind in the budget and a mounting accounts payable that tends to make stewardship sermons more about immediate pain relief than the core issues of the heart.
This past weekend I spoke on stewardship from Luke 21:1-4. It’s the famous story of the widow who gave her last two “mites” (KJV) to the Temple treasury. Hence the title, “Giving with All Your Might.”
The passage reads as follows: “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has’.”
According to the story, Jesus was watching as the rich dropped their offerings into the Temple treasury. The treasury was located in the court of women and consisted of 13 trumpet shaped collection boxes, each bearing an inscription indicating the use of each gift. It was not uncommon for the gifts of the rich to be announced publicly. Jesus observed these generous free will offerings without condemnation or criticism.
This image was placed in contrast to a simple widow who put in two “mites.” Widows in the first century were generally considered to be the poorest of the poor. They possessed no rights to property and had virtually no prospects to earn income. They were without advocacy or support. They held no status.
The widow gave two small copper coins, called lepta. The two lepta were the economic equivalent of 1 66th of 1 day’s wage.
Jesus’ evaluation of her act was straightforward: The widow gave more than the rich because she gave all. Literally, she gave all her bios, her life. While others gave out of their abundance, she gave all she had. She didn’t save a cushion. She had no promise for more income. And most intriguing of all, Jesus made no attempt to stop her.
Tomorrow I’ll share three applications on Giving with All Your Might from this simple story that occurred late in Jesus’ ministry. I was surprised at the real point of the story!