LUKE 21:1-4: “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What is the significance of the widow’s two mites? This passage has always intrigued me whenever I have read it. Recently, while having lunch with a friend from church, I was given a widow’s mite from Israel. He indicated that it was still in circulation today and that he had purchased a bag full of them for about $2.00. As I placed this mite in my pocket I again wondered – “What is the significance of the widow’s mite?”
This passage of Scripture has been misused by some to extract an offering from those who either were not willing or were giving their offering for the wrong reason. Jesus was not focusing on the relative amount of the offering compared to the person’s resources as much as the motivation of the offering compared to the person’s heart.
The rich were contrasted with this poor widow. The rich were there giving their offering out of the abundance they had and for a show of piety before others. The widow was giving up her last two coins out of her poverty and her need. The motive of the rich was to receive the praise of men. The motive of the widow was to quietly worship the Lord.
It is important to note how truly poor this widow was. The mite was the smallest coin in circulation in the Roman occupied territory. Some give it a value of 1/5 or a cent. What would two mites buy? They would not even be enough to buy a turtle dove to give as a free will offering. In fact, two mites would possibly be able to purchase 2-3 grapes. That was the extent of their worth.
Why was this widow’s offering such an act of worship? Why did Jesus take time to note her and use it as a teaching example for us all? The widow had a choice as she came to worship. She could cling to her own resources or she could place her entire life on the altar – placing her full trust in the Lord for his provision.
The widow chose to cast all her cares upon the Lord! She knew that He alone could sustain her. For her to put her trust in a two mere mites was nothing but foolish. Yet, to let go of those two mites as she cast her cares upon the Lord was an act of sacrificial worship.
It takes an act of surrender and faith to let go of everything we are holding onto. Yet, this is exactly what worship is. It is laying down our life, our rights, our hopes, our dreams, on the altar of God, in absolute surrender. It is saying – “Not my will, but Your will be done.” It is taking up our cross daily and following Jesus. It is living for God’s glory, not for the glory or praise of man.
I believe no one else noticed this poor widow except Jesus. To others she was invisible. This is because they did not see with eyes of faith as Jesus did. While the crowd praised those who made great pretense about their offering, this poor widow simply came and went without any show or recognition. In fact, if it was not for Jesus we never would have known about her.
As I reflect upon these verses I need to ask myself – “What is my motivation in worship?” Am I coming to the altar so that God will do something for me? Or, am I coming to the altar to lay down my life so that I can do something for God? These verses are not about extracting the last two coins from the poor and needy. They are a reminder of the call to worship and surrender for us all!
As I think about the widow and her two mites I am reminded of Peter’s exhortation.
- “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:5-7 NKJV
The widow gave all she had in absolute surrender and humility. Lord, give me the heart of this widow. Give me the grace to humble myself today, to cast all my cares upon you, and to lay down my life for You.
Lord, help me release the two mites that I have clenched in my hand.
In Jesus Name!