FAITH IN FOCUS: GIVING
At Sunday lunch the family were moaning about what had happened at church. The priest’s sermon was rubbish, the choir out of tune and the church cold. Then the youngest child silenced everyone by saying, “Still, it wasn’t bad for only £1.”
The episode about the widow’s mite teaches us a lot about giving. First of all there’s the question of what we give. Obviously the amount is not the most important aspect of giving because it’s relative. The widow put two coins worth a penny into the collection whereas the richer people dwarfed her contribution by the size of their donations. But presumably we should expect richer people to provide more revenue.
Clearly, the amount given may bear no relationship to the wealth of the person. And Jesus pointed out to his disciples that in fact the widow had given much more than all the others.
Secondly, there’s the business of how we give. When we see some sort of appeal for helping children or providing food and drink to people struck by famine, how do we react? Do we begrudgingly put our hands in our pockets and cough up as little as we can without seeming miserly? When envelopes drop through our doors asking for money for charity, what do we feel like?
God loves a cheerful giver, according to St Paul, but sometimes we give begrudgingly. The widow could have kept one of her two coins but she gave willingly. And she gave everything she had.
Thirdly, there’s the issue of why we give. Some people give things to churches and then have a plaque made to let everyone know that they are the donor. Such recognition has already been rewarded. But there’s another sort of recognition: reverse recognition. We can give out of recognition of what we ourselves have been given. We give because we are conscious of being blessed by God in so many ways and our giving-back is just a token of our gratitude. God gave his only Son and his only Son gave his life for us.
So giving implies a what, a how and a why. And by willing giving her all, the widow got all three of them right.