Lent Day 14: The Widow’s Mite

Jesus sat down across from the place where people put their temple offerings. He watched the crowd putting their money into the offering boxes. Many rich people threw large amounts into them.

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins. They were worth much less than a penny.

Jesus asked his disciples to come to him. He said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. That poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. They all gave a lot because they are rich. But she gave even though she is poor. She put in everything she had. She gave all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44

J. Vernon McGee was an eccentric (I mean that in the best way possible) preacher who always had interesting anecdotes to tell. He once told of a pastor who held a meeting to raise funds to build a new church building. The pastor asked each congregant what they would like to contribute. He got to the wealthiest member of the church, a local businessman, and asked, “And what can we put you down for?”

The man hesitated and said, “Well, I could probably put in the widow’s mite.” (A “mite” is what the New King James Version of the Bible calls the copper coins; very small copper coins worth a fraction of a penny.)

The pastor stood up excitedly and said, “Did ya hear that, everyone? Mr. Smith just said he’s going to fund the whole campaign! What a generous fellow!”

Mr. Smith immediately shot back at him. “What? I never said such a thing! I said I could give the widow’s mite!”

“Yes,” replied the pastor. “And that widow gave all she had!”

Jesus took notice of that widow. And we still talk about her today.

Guy On A Mat

A few days later, Jesus entered Capernaum again. The people heard that he had come home. So many people gathered that there was no room left. There was not even room outside the door. And Jesus preached the word to them. Four of those who came were carrying a man who could not walk. But they could not get him close to Jesus because of the crowd. So they made a hole by digging through the roof above Jesus. Then they lowered the man through it on a mat. Jesus saw their faith. So he said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Some teachers of the law were sitting there. They were thinking, “Why is this fellow talking like that? He’s saying a very evil thing! Only God can forgive sins!”

Right away Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Is it easier to say to this man, ‘Your sins are forgiven’? Or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So Jesus spoke to the man who could not walk. “I tell you,” he said, “get up. Take your mat and go home.” The man got up and took his mat. Then he walked away while everyone watched. All the people were amazed. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

This past Sunday, BCL launched its new season (it was also my first wedding anniversary! We celebrated at Kobe’s!) BCL is my church’s family production. My job is to write scripts for it. Every month we focus on one “Big Idea”. Historically, these Big Ideas have been “traits that Jesus displayed in his life that we want to display in our life.” Things like Respect, Responsibility, Kindness, and Patience. Things that every parent wants their kid to learn, regardless of what they believe about Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. The problem is when kids think they are a checklist. That they are a measuring stick for God’s love. That they must try harder. And I don’t need to tell you that this is a problem for adults, too…

Over the past year, we [Summit’s Family Ministry] have been focusing on helping develop Sticky Faith in children. A faith that lasts. A faith centered on Jesus, not a list of Do’s and Don’ts. Our Big Idea for September is When I Trust Jesus, It Changes Me. And we kicked off the year with this story – the man on the mat. A man so desperate to reach Jesus that his friends cut a hole in a roof and lower him down. This man wanted external change. He wanted to walk. And Jesus made that happened, but first He took care of an internal problem… He forgave the man of his sins. Something only God can do.

I can get so easily caught up in try harder thinking. I think a lot of Christians can. Maybe that’s why many come across as judgmental so often. If we are doing things by our own efforts, then it’s easy to point the finger at others who are not “trying as hard”. Maybe our external behavior changes for awhile, but we are miserable inside. But this guy didn’t try to do anything. He was brought to Jesus and Jesus did the rest. If we admit we are a mess and our vulnerable with ourselves, others, and God, that’s when we can experience change and joy.

As we continue to explore the Big Idea of trusting Jesus this month in BCL, I hope I can let it sink in. There’s no scorecard. There’s nothing I can do to make God love me any more.