And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:42-43ESV
When we want to know the worth of a precious stone, we take it to a jeweler who takes his magnifying glass and looks at its clarity and counts the facets. If we need to sell our home, we call an appraiser. When they get to our house, they check it inside and out to ascertain its market value. Standard practice is to value things according to their appearance. But God sees everything differently. In this story of the widow, the disciples were shocked that Jesus had said that she had given more than all the others. They had seen with their own two eyes, only two tiny copper coins fall from her hand into the offering box. They missed what Jesus had seen of her love, her sacrifice and faith.
If we want to look beautiful to God, we must start by remembering that nothing we see on the outside is as it appears to Him. God looks at our actions and puts them under HIs heavenly jeweler’s magnifying glass. The appraiser of the universe examines our motives according to their eternal market value. Neither the amount of money we give or how often we volunteer at the soup kitchen impresses Him. What counts with Jesus is the clarity of our love and the weight of our faith. God gives all of us the same opportunity, that He gave the widow. It doesn’t matter what other people think of our offering, what counts is if we put it into the hand of God today!
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:42-43 ESV
Last week we had just finished our Christmas caroling time at a nursing home and began to pass out some large print Christmas devotional books as our gift to the residents. Most of them lit up with smiles and thanked us for the book, but when one of our volunteers came to a table in the back, the lady reached out and slipped three one-dollar bills into their hand. Despite urging her that she didn’t need to pay for our gift, she insisted, “No please take it! I want to give something!”
That dear lady not only reminded me of the widow in today’s verse, but she also showed me that longing to give is a basic desire of every heart. Some of us, unfortunately, have had that desire dampened by people who have taken unfair advantage of us. But Jesus never mentioned anything about how well the two little coins she contributed, were spent. What mattered to Him, was that the love she gave with, made the gift precious. None of the rich guys who went ahead of her and made a big deal of their offerings had impressed Jesus. But the small sacrifice that she eagerly gave with a pure heart was a treasure to Him. That also reminded me that whether we have gold, frankincense and myrrh or just two pennies, God sees more than pennies, and He is watching our hearts today!
And live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
I have often wondered about the prayer Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. The awesome power that Jesus had to command wind and waves and to raise the dead was humbled in His plea to be delivered from the cross. He could have miraculously hidden himself again or struck down a thousand soldiers by a word and yet He struggled and sweat blood as He yielded Himself to His Father’s will and the shame and suffering that lay ahead.
He could have prayed; “I know I have to die so let’s just get this over.” In sullen acceptance, but instead He yielded His heart in love. How often I have prayed and given grudgingly but without surrender? I dodge the bullet of disobedience but miss the mark of true sacrifice.
But because Jesus gave His life in loving obedience, Peter was brought to full repentance, Nicodemus had opportunity to be courageous and a thief was brought to paradise. A rich man had the chance to learn how to give and just three days later Mary Magdalene got to be the first to see Him risen and alive. These all received because Jesus gave himself willingly. They became a part of the fragrance of the offering of Jesus. So what about this morning? Will we surrender whatever is in our hands today to God? Will we willingly let go of what is ours to gain something for others? Will we surrender and follow our Lord and offer a sacrifice with a sweet fragrance to God today?