Luke 21:1-4 ~ 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Women were created by God to be helpers, but life has demanded that women become leaders. After God created Eve, the first woman, God assigned to her and established her as the template for all women who would come after her. However, throughout the annals of time, life situations and circumstances have called upon women to assume greater roles and responsibilities in the home, the world, and also in the church.
The departure from what was once considered traditional roles for women has seen them make tremendous strides in breaking down barriers and raising ceilings in once male dominated sectors and societies. Women have vigorously dispelled the once held myth that they are helpless damsels in distress awaiting their knight in shining armor to come and rescue them.
Today all women and moms have much to celebrate. Although some would say that the celebration of womanhood and motherhood should be tempered because there is still work to do and a lot more to be accomplished, I say revel in your accomplishments and celebrate your successes. Why? Celebrate because Jesus has noticed how far you have come and how much you have accomplished. While there may still be pockets and segments of society and the world that may be slow in recognizing both the triumphs and challenges that women and moms face, Jesus has noticed.
On behalf of Jesus for whom I am an ambassador, I want to offer a few words of encouragement to women in general and moms in particular. I want to let you know today that Jesus has and is taking notice of all that you have done and are doing. Dr. Luke takes us inside the Temple and allows us to see through the eyes of Jesus something that women and moms have done daily from the beginning of time and that is giving their all. Dr. Luke allows us through the eyes of Jesus to look beyond the exterior of the woman or women we call mom or have been a mom to us and see what is inside them that propels them to give it their all.
Jesus makes two distinctions in this text. First, Jesus distinguishes between rich and poor referring to class and then Jesus distinguishes between wealth and poverty, which refers to means.
• There are those who focus on where they are in life, there are those who focus on how much they have in life and then there are those who give all that they have regardless of where they are or what they have.
One of the first things Jesus noticed about this woman who gave her all was the condition of her heart. Moms, women, and people who give their all give freely because their giving is not determined by what they have or how much they have they simply give all that they have. In a heart that gives freely there is no room for jealousy and envy. The heart does not begrudge others for what they have but rather it is content to make the most of what it has. You do not hear any grumbling about the things the heart may want or desires, but you see a sense of gratitude for everything it possesses and because it has gratefully received, all that the heart gives is done joyfully and freely. Everyone wants nice things, but I am always amazed at how a woman or mom who is grateful for what she has can turn a two-bedroom apartment into a palace. Her home is always inviting and she is always willing to share freely all that she has.
Jesus also noticed the effort with which this woman gave. Isn’t it interesting that when we give freely the effort is both tireless and seam-less? This is perhaps one of the reasons women and moms sometimes get taken for granted, because it always appears as though you have everything under control and never get tired. Like the energizer bunny you just keep going and going and going.
Jesus goes on to make another distinction. In this next distinction Jesus describes how people gave. Jesus says, “They gave out of…” Some gave out of their wealth, but the widow gave out of her self. In other words she gave selflessly. Like moms and some women this widow gave with ease never stopping to think about herself, but thinking about others first. One of the most endearing characteristics of selfless giving is that it never draws attention to itself. Selfless giving does not wait or look for pomp and circumstances or a parade and does not need positive affirmations. Selfless givers just go about their business quietly.
• The selfless mom and woman’s credo is “If it needs to be done, I’ll do it.”
There are many churches today that owe their existence to the contributions of selfless moms and women who gave of themselves to make sure the doors remained opened. No one asks how or why things get done, we just continue to enjoy the fact that things are set up for us as we walk in the door. In fact, there are many families today that are still together because selfless moms and grandmothers were the glue that held the family together through hard times. These selfless women recognized that the whole was more important than an individual part.
Jesus makes yet another distinction. He points out that while some “Gave out,” the widow “Put in.” While some may have been looking for something in return, the widow was willing to sacrifice and part with all that she had. Sacrifice and sacrificial giving never considers what’s in it for me, it is only concerned with how my contribution will make everyone and everything else around me better.
• Whereas, selfishness always looks to make me better, sacrificial giving always looks to make us better.
It almost seems as though moms have built into their DNA a sacrificial gene. As soon as they hear the word “need” they forget about themselves and spring into action. They do not even ask they just offer and it is always more than enough. Yet, we never stop to think about where it came from, if we did we would see that it came from them. We say, “I’ll pay you back,” and they say, “don’t be silly you need it so take it.” Sacrificial giving never begins with I or me, instead it always begins with you, he, she, or they need. Sacrificial giving is funny that way it has a limited vocabulary and tunnel vision. It is fed by need and deprived of self. I never once remember my mom saying, “What about me?”
Perhaps the most profound distinction that Jesus made was in the area of faith. Jesus describes some as giving “gifts,” and the widow gave “Two very small copper coins.” One of the things that Jesus was pointing out is do not become enamored with the size of the gift, but pay attention to the mindset and disposition of the giver. Giving when you have it to give is one thing, but giving when you have nothing left to give is faith in action. Moms who give in faith do not put their trust in themselves, but they put their total and complete trust in God. They do not worry about tomorrow, because the same God who provided for today will also take care of tomorrow. These women are a living and breathing example of what putting our trust in God and Christ looks like.
You never see them sweat, because they recognize that all things come from God. Their actions and lifestyle communicate and reiterate repeatedly all that we have acquired or will acquire comes from God. It is by God’s grace, God choosing to smile on me and show me kindness that I have been blessed with life, health, strength, resources, skills, talents, ability, family and friends. Therefore, I will look to Him who supplies and wait on Him to provide – in the meantime, I will give all that I have.
This widow is in stark contrast to today’s contemporary woman. Today we hear of women speaking of how strong they are and how they can accomplish this and that. While this is nice, Jesus pointed out that the widow put in more than all the rest and she did it quietly. I think back to my own mother and grandmother and the women of that time. They had a quiet strength that could not be matched and certainly could not be ignored. They did not have to tell the world how strong they were they showed the world by giving their all in everything they did.
• They gave from their heart and give tirelessly – there was no such thing as I’m tired or I do not feel like it
• They gave selflessly – if it needed to be done, they took the initiative got up and did it, and did not ask for applause, positive affirmations, or anything else – they just gave of themselves
• They gave sacrificially – many boys, girls, men and women owe their success in life to moms and women who were committed to making sure they had what they needed so they could get to where they are today
• They gave in faith – they sowed the seeds of faith in us by showing us how to trust God in Christ for everything not looking at what they had, but giving all that they had and having the courage to wait on God to supply them with whatever they lacked
I recently had the opportunity to eulogize a woman who was like a mother to me in life and in Christ. I was struck by a quote attributed to her in her obituary. Her words summarize the witness and testimony of not only the widow in our text, but of every woman and mom that has and is giving their all. It read, “Your needs will always be provided for, it is your wants you will have to work for.”