Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.
He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”
Whenever you give something, you make an exchange. My dad bought lemonade from every lemonade stand he ever saw and I was always his mule. Maybe because he was driving the car.
One time we pulled up, maybe 2 doors down from some kids and my dad handed me $10 and said, “Go get us 2 lemonades and tell them to keep the change.”
For a quarter lemonade that is really lukewarm country time? Like not even a real lemon drink like with lemons or at least Kool-Aid where the grit really dissolves? (I hate country time lemonade.)
So I held that $10 (I remember thinking I had a ton of money in my hand) and I went down and bought 2 lemonades and told those kids to keep the change.
They lost their minds.
So much money.
I took my two Solo cups back to the car and I felt pretty good too. I just made their day.
I did that.
Back in the car, my dad told me what a good job I did and he honked as we drove by those 2 boys staring at their bill and smiling and waving ferociously.
Then it came:
“You can have mine, son. I don’t like lemonade.”
My dad didn’t buy lemonade, he bought an experience. For me, it was a chance to participate in being generous. For those boys, it was the excitement of having a ‘successful’ lemonade stand.
It wasn’t about what the recipient did with the money, but the actual exchange of the money from his hand to mine, from mine to those lemonaders.
Our culture has gotten so wrapped up in the return on our investments, that sometimes we lose sight of the way an offering works. We make it an investment or ‘support’ but on the day that Jesus said these things, it was an offering. The poor widow gave the money like my dad gave those boys the $10. He didn’t stick around to see their annual report of how they’d use it.
And just a few days previous, Jesus cleared out all of the corrupt merchants and money changers, so He knows she’s putting money into a corrupt system. That didn’t even matter here.
The apostle Paul would later say “the Lord loves a cheerful giver.”
If you’ve ever been in the spot of this poor widow, joyfully giving away something that truly amounted to a sacrifice on your part, you’ve felt the joy he’s talking about. You’ve felt the joy that Jesus is honoring.
Maybe giving isn’t the exchange that we think it is.
You can get the Daily Bible Readings to your inbox via email every day by subscribing on our home page. Join the discussion online on Facebook or Twitter.