“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” 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 2:1-4
In the KJV of this familiar story the term “mite” is used in place of “copper coins.” Although there were no Greek coins called mites, (they were known as “lepta”) these small coins were the smallest in circulation and worth the least amount in Judea in the time of Jesus. The point Jesus was making is simple enough; the offerings of the poor who cannot give as much in proportion to the wealthy actually give more when they give sacrificially compared to those whose contribution involve little sacrifice.
About five years ago, in the middle of the week, a woman knocked on the door of our church. She was a stranger to us and was in need of money because of some recent hardships. I will call her Mary. Mary was not begging and she was not looking for handouts. She came upon a difficult time in her life and did not know where else to turn. She did not have any family who were close enough to help and it took her a tremendous amount of courage to swallow her pride and ask for support. But she made it clear that she would not simply receive help but she would offer her services to help out around the church in any way she could. We wound up giving her an insignificant amount of money to help pay for rent and buy some groceries. It was not a loan, it was a gift. But she insisted on helping out. So every few days Mary would come by, walking the 2 miles from her home in the summer heat. We never knew when she would come by but when she did we gave her some small tasks…dust the pews, empty the trash, water plants, wipe down the tables in the fellowship hall. Mary came to a few church services but soon enough a change in her living arrangements forced her to move out of the area. As quickly as she appeared at our door is as quickly as she was gone.
Every few months we receive a “tithe” from Mary; a small money order from the government assistance she receives. Lately, these tithes have come more frequently. Last week we received a letter from her:
Dear Pastor Steve,
I hope you and your family and all the wonderful people of the church are fine. This month I will be sixty six years of age. I am going to make a will soon, leaving any money in my bank account to High Mountain Church of The Nazarene. I am not wealthy, I have a little under a thousand dollars. I have arranged and paid for my funeral. I am leaving my furniture and belongings to the Red Cross, being I do not have any family members. (Who knows, I might live another 20 years, but I doubt it!) I will have all my affairs in order.
When I visit, I would like to discuss it more. I found a ride, but right now I am busy going to the dentist and eye doctors. Plus the weather is bad. See you soon.
Take good care,
When she wrote this letter I could picture Jesus standing beside her, looking over her shoulder, and saying: ”
I tell you the truth, 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.” Mary has blessed me and our church more than we have ever blessed her. The book of Hebrews says that sometimes we entertain angels without even being aware of it. (Hebrews 13:2). I wonder if………
What do you think?
How does it make you feel?