Two copper coins

SELF LOVE is healthy. The Lord commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. So we should take care of ourselves and value our existence.

Compare this to the widow who gave two copper coins as an offering at the temple. Jesus said she “offered her whole livelihood.” In this widow’s gesture, I discover great mysteries and challenges.

Self love helps and heals. But selfish love harms. We know this to be true from experience. When I’m in a good place, I’m kinder and more helpful. When I’m irritated or moody, I’m cold and distant.

A selfish person does not transmit joy. You can only offer joy if it lives inside you. So what does this have to do with the poor widow who gave all she had, that is, two small copper coins?

Should I take all my money and give it to the poor? Should I donate my house and all my possessions to charity? For some, this might be required. If the Spirit calls you to give it all away, then do it. Tremendous blessings will surely follow.

But the Lord also asks us to be responsible administrators. The widow had two small coins, nothing else. She gave them as an offering. By giving away all she had, did the poor widow make a mistake?

There were others at the temple giving their offerings too. They gave out of their surplus wealth, Jesus said. They gave their leftovers. But in the widow’s humble offering — giving all she had — Jesus saw greatness.

He must have seen the Spirit of God thriving in the widow. He must have seen great trust and thanksgiving pouring out from her. In a way, her prophetic gesture pointed towards Jesus’ giving himself up on the cross. 

So I ask myself the tough questions. Do I worry more about accumulating or giving? How much money do I spend on myself? How much do I give to those less fortunate?

How much time and effort do I spend satisfying my wants and desires? How much time and effort do I dedicate to others? 

The widow represents a miraculous example. She was a person infused by God’s grace. She knew God’s goodness and generosity, and she responded in kind. What else can explain her actions?

Her focus was clear. She trusted God completely and was willing to give it all up to him. Jesus had the same vision — the deep desire to do his Father’s will — no matter the cost. 

We live in a world where material possessions are sometimes valued more than life itself. We see how our selfishness can cause great damage. Some think that they must become rich and successful first, then they can help others.

While any help might be welcome, giving only leftovers reveals something in our heart. It exposes our spiritual poverty. 

What happens when you help until it hurts? I believe God’s Spirit works in these acts of charity — when it hurts — in the most powerful ways.

Here I discover a spiritual truth. The effort behind the giving will appear in the impact of the gift.

Look at the cross on Calvary. How much did that hurt? Look at the resurrection. How powerfully did the Spirit act then?

I’m not able to give like the poor widow. I am humbled by her gesture. Still, I can ask God to help me — to free me of my selfishness. I can ask him to help me give more time, money, and attention to those in need.

The same miracle that worked in the widow can work in any of us — if we give thanks — if we trust — if we believe.

Giving until it hurts requires an expansion of the heart. There is no other way.

And with a big, generous heart, there is plenty of room for the Spirit to work.

There is plenty of room for joy.

. . . . . . .

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

Luke 21:1-4

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