“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4
Lest we think that Jesus is ripping on the rich folks, let’s be clear: he is not SHAMING them for their gifts, he is CELEBRATING the widow for her gifts. The reason is because her generosity flowed out of severe need and lack, whereas the others gave out of abundance. For one group it was most likely easy to give. For the poor widow it was undoubtedly painstaking.
Jesus affirms her generosity.
Paul did the same for the Macedonian church in his letter to Corinth:
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” 2 Cor. 8:1-5 ESV
From this passage, as well as others in 2 Corinthians 8, I’ve discovered a few principles regarding generosity.
• Generosity is sacrificial (2 Cor. 8:2). It’s been said that it’s not about “equal gifts, but rather, equal sacrifice.” That’s really the bottom line of what Jesus was communicating in the story about the rich givers and the poor widow.
• Generosity indicates a maturing faith (2 Cor. 8:7). In this verse we’re challenged to grow not only in our faith, speech, knowledge and love, but also in the area of our giving. Is this an area of your Christian journey that needs to mature?
• Generosity is a response to Jesus’ life and work in us (2 Cor 8:9). Elsewhere in the Bible we’re reminded that we “love him because he first loved us.” This works in tandem with the understanding that our giving is a natural response to Jesus’ super-natural gift of grace and salvation. Simply put: we can’t out-give God!
Friends, I want to encourage you to live a generous life – modeled after God the Father giving his only Son, and extended through the life of Jesus, in the willful laying down of his life upon the cross.
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15