Today’s story is short but powerful. True, it is a picture of sacrificial giving. But it is also a picture of twisted priorities and upside-down religion. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a good story. It is a sad story. Today’s text…
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”” (Luke 21:1–4, NLT)
How would you feel if you knew and loved a widow who was desperately poor, and you observed her giving her last two pennies to a corrupt religious system? What would you do? Would you commend her? Would you try to stop her?
What God says about widows
“You must not exploit a widow or an orphan.” (Exodus 22:22, NLT)
When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows.” (Deuteronomy 24:21, NLT)
What Jesus says about the priority and target of our giving
Jesus told him, “… give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”” (Matthew 19:21, NLT)
What God says about false religion
Yet they (false religious leaders) shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”” (Luke 20:47, NLT)
What God says about true religion
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:26–27, NLT)
Notice in our text today, Jesus never gives a message on giving after seeing this widow’s sacrifice. He doesn’t use her as an example of how “everyone” should give. He simply points out how great her sacrifice was.
The question remains. What does Jesus want us to learn from this illustration? Is He encouraging all true worshippers of God to take a vow of poverty? We will discuss this in detail in today’s message.