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Giving From Our Scarcity

Weekly Devotionals

Giving From Our Scarcity

Mark 12:41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

When I read this story of a widow giving out of her poverty, I can’t help but feel this tinge of shame. The more I reflect on that feeling of embarrassment the stronger the knot in my stomach seems to grow. The loss of a husband in ancient Israel was both an economic and social tragedy. It would mean that this widow was living a marginal existence and scarcity was her daily reality. Unexpectedly, it’s precisely this widow that Jesus decides to elevate and illustrate as the pinnacle of devotion to God. Jesus was no stranger to controversy, and if his listeners didn’t feel shame over the comparison, I can easily imagine those spectators either turning a blind eye or ignoring Jesus’ words all together.

Does Jesus really expect me to give every bit of my wealth into the church coffers?  On the surface, that sort of interpretation can certainly be lifted from the text. However, that kind of understanding has this grimy feel to it where guilt and shame are used as tools to generate revenue. I can’t imagine that Jesus would want THAT message to ring when he elevated this broken woman to a status above the wealthy and religious elites. There must be something deeper than a message about proper tithing here.

What Jesus often did with his teaching was re-calibrate his listeners and shook their minds out of the fog and into the light. In this story of the poor widow, we see Jesus doing this exact thing. When we feel as if we have nothing to give our instinct is to cling and hoard our resources, both physical and emotional. However, Jesus reveals the inner workings of the “spiritual physics” that occurs when we give out of our poverty. The act of giving will often replenish us in those spaces where we thought the tank was empty. If you’re lacking a sense of joy in your life, there is no better way to experience joy than to bring joy to another person. When we become a conduit of joy we begin to experience joy ourselves. When we spread peace around we start to achieve peace in our own selves. When we become a bearer of life to others our lungs begin to experience the breath of life that only God can provide. May these words from Jesus ring true in your life as you journey and navigate through the various relationships in your life and give out of your scarcity.

Peace be with you.