Today’s reading included words like “rich” and “poor.” Those are comparative words, aren’t they? If you were to place yourself on a continuum of wealth, you would likely not place yourself at either of those two extremes. That means that you are “poor” in comparison to some and “rich” when compared to others.
Likewise, “generous” is a difficult term. Compared to other gifts, my gift placed in an offering plate on Sunday may seem like their entire week’s income. For others, that same gift may seem like pocket change.
If we examine the gifts in Mark 12 purely based on their comparative size without knowing other details, we draw conclusions contrary to those of Christ’s. Clearly, the “rich,” with their large gifts, were more “generous” than the “poor” widow with her two copper coins.
But that’s where Jesus used another point of comparison. Rather than comparing gifts at face value, He compared “gift given” to the “amount kept.” That’s where the woman’s gift is described as “more” than those of the other contributors that day. Her two copper coins given were measured in comparison to her own resulting empty pockets left as a result. She had given “all she had to live on.”
Is that what God expects of all? Well, not if I read 1Timothy 6 properly. God does to some people sometimes provide extra resources that allow for “enjoyment.” But, whether any of us have little excess or lots of discretionary funds, whether your life is comparable to the “rich people” or the “poor widow,” all of us can find ways to be generous.” In some ways, our generosity is a reflection of our true treasure. What is it we value most? To what have we attached our hope?
The widow had one thing in place that the apostle Paul exhorts all of us to pursue. She had not put her hope in wealth. Instead, she put her hope in God…and her generosity reflected that.
Comparisons aside, let’s examine the foundation of our giving. To what have you attached your hope? What is your greatest treasure in life? In all likelihood, your bank account will give you a good barometer reading. Are there things that need to change?