LUKE 21:1-4: “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.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Do I have a giving heart? Am I truly trusting God and putting Him first in everything I do? Or, am I like those Jesus observed who simply were giving from their surplus. They were giving only what they did not need. Jesus contrasted these rich people with one poor widow who dropped in two small coins.
I always wondered about these two small coins. After doing some reading on the subject I realized they were not simply the equivalent of two pennies. Two pennies have virtually no worth at all. It would be just as easy to give away two pennies as it was for the rich to give of their surplus. What were these two small coins really worth?
The two coins were what was known as a lepta. It was the smallest coin in circulation during this time. The two lepta were worth about 1/64 of a denarius. A denarius was the wage for a common day’s work by a laborer. If we put that into today’s terms we can get a better perspective on what these two coins were worth.
For sake of illustration, we will use $15.00 per hour as a laborer’s wage. The average workday was about 12 hours in Jesus’ day. This would equate to $180.00 in today’s money. Two lepta would be equivalent to 1/64 of $180.00, or $2.81 for a 12 hour day, or $2.00 for an 8 hour day. This is significantly more than two pennies.
Today, $2.00 could buy a sandwich at Mcdonalds, or a couple of tacos at Taco Bell. However, $2.00 would not go very far in providing for building repairs at your local church. The widow’s $2.00 was worth almost nothing to the Temple treasury, but it was everything to her. When she placed it in the free-will offering she was doing much more than giving up her last $2.00. This widow was proclaiming her faith and devotion to God in a humble act of worship.
The widow knew that this small amount of money could not sustain her for long. No doubt she was used to poverty in her state. Yet, from her action, we can glean that she had learned what to do when faced with adversity. She knew that the last $2.00 she held in her hand could do more for her as she laid it upon the altar, than if she kept it in her pocket out of fear for what lay ahead. She knew that only God could rescue her at this juncture in her life.
We do not have any record of what happened to this widow. I don’t believe she stumbled into a windfall of money from her sacrificial gift. However, there are two things I am certain of. First, she touched the heart of her Heavenly Father. And, second, I know that God provided for her needs each and every day of her life from this moment forward.
When Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5000, they did not respond like this courageous widow. Instead, they looked at their lack, rather than at God’s supply.
- “But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” For there were about 5,000 men there. Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!” Luke 9:13-17 NLT
When they surrendered their measly five loaves and two fish to Jesus they placed themselves in the position to receive a miracle from God. When Jesus blessed this small provision, and when probably a crowd of over 20,000, including women and children, ate their fill, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers. What seemed like nothing in their hands became the source of blessing in Jesus’ hands!
This widow was poor financially, but I believe these two small coins opened the provision of God’s continual flow of care and blessing in her life. Just like the widow with Elijah, when she gave up her last cake to provide for God’s servant, the Lord miraculously provided a continual provision of flour and oil throughout the entire famine that was in the land. When we seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (including our resources) – He always meets us at our point of need!
- “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 NLT
I wish we knew more about this courageous woman. Yet, what we know is more than what we really need. If we truly hear the words of Jesus, if we look into her heart of faith, if we discover the joy of giving in a way that is led by the Spirit and pleases the heart of God, then we too will discover the blessing of God’s continual outpouring of provision and grace.
Lord, thank you for the testimony of this wonderful woman of faith. Grant me the grace to hold the resources you have entrusted to me with an open hand. May I respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading to give with a cheerful heart of faith. When I look at the needs around me, help me not to focus on what I don’t have, but on what You can do when I place even the smallest of resources I do have into Your powerful hand!
In Jesus Name!