Giving Our All is All Our Responsibility
Giving Our All is All Our Responsibility Luke 20:45-47, 21:1-4
One of the most famous givers in Scripture is the widow with two coins who shows up in several of the Gospels. Jesus notices the widow putting in the coins after he has observed wealthier worshippers putting in their gifts and he remarks, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” The widow gets lifted up as an example of heroic, sacrificial giving.
What we don’t often think about, however, is why the widow had so little to give in the first place. Some of the reason was, as a widow she would have lost her source of income that came through her husband, and in the patriarchal society of the time it was very difficult for a woman with no husband to generate her own income. A few verses prior to the woman putting in her two coins, however, we see another reason why she does not have much to give. Jesus is being critical of some of the religious leaders and he says that they, “devour widow’s houses …” It sounds like the very leaders who are supposed to be looking out for the widows and others who may be in need, are actually taking advantage of their vulnerability and cheating them out of their resources.
I lift this up because I think sometimes we perceive the widow in the story as this sweet example of sacrifice without acknowledging some of the cruel and unjust societal factors that contributed to the dire straits that she is in. If others would have been acting more generously like she was, or even simply not have been so greedy, everyone would have more to give. You might say that when we all give our all, then everyone benefits.
Who might be the vulnerable in our society today, whose houses or resources are being “devoured” by unjust economic structures or leaders acting out of greed? How might the observations of Jesus not only move us to admire the widow, but also examine unjust systems that keep people like the widow from having the resources they need? What if more people were as generous as the widow? Would there be less poverty and more abundance?
-Pastor Erik Goehner