Week 5 | Thursday
Week 5: Faith in Action
The Widow's Offering: Sacrifice
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 21: 1-4
- We’ve seen Jesus commenting on the rich before–how hard it is for them to enter the Kingdom of God. What is most striking about the poor widow’s offering?
- In these last days, Jesus faces a lot of criticism, questioning, and looking for opportunities by the authorities to trip Jesus up. In light of his own upcoming sacrifice, how might this poor widow be an encouragement to Jesus?
- What does this story teach you about God’s economy?
- When you think of people who have been most sacrificial, what strikes you about the cost to themselves?
- When you think of others who have sacrificed the most on your behalf, who comes to mind? Who would you be willing to make a great sacrifice for?
- Consider some of the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Can It Be” (1738) as you thank Jesus for his sacrifice on your behalf:
- The poor widow is celebrated in heaven for her great sacrifice. Is there someone you can celebrate with us here for his or her sacrifice for the Kingdom of God?
I have lived outside the U.S. a good part of my life, and I am reminded again of Christians in other countries where following Jesus can have huge costs: loss of job and career, ostracism by family and community, even imprisonment. Their willingness to sacrifice everything for Jesus humbles me. When I think about the widow in today’s story, I am so struck (again) by how different Jesus’ perspective is. We tend to be impressed by the size of someone’s gift because we are focused on what we can do with the money. A tiny gift like hers really can’t accomplish much, or so we think. But Jesus doesn’t care about the money – he cares about the heart of the giver.
My paternal grandmother was raised in a wealthy household, the only child of a successful man (Charlie Lake) and a stay-at-home mom whose name I don't remember.
Their daughter Dorothy had formal portraits made for her Sweet 16, wearing beautiful furs. But two years later, she met my working-class grandfather and married him before her 19th birthday. They had very little money but still started a family, with most of the ten children born between the two world wars, the second (my dad) born in 1929. She took a job with Smith Corona making typewriters, because my grandfather's pay as a railroad conductor didn't stretch far enough. Still, she made all of the children's clothes, planted a huge garden, and kept chickens to keep everyone clothed and fed, and sent eight of her children into the military when they were old enough. Grandma played the organ for her church for more than 50 years with her kids lined up on the front pew, and taught the family not to judge others because they were all doing the best they could. They never had much money but they gave to the church and all their 40 grandchildren as we came along. Grandma made every one of us mittens and homemade dolls, blankets, or toys every Christmas. Nothing came easy, but she didn't complain about my Grandfather's job or all those kids, and they all have wonderful memories of her.
Her sacrifices helped to give me a really exceptional point of view from my earliest memories, and I know Jesus welcomed her when she joined him in 1994.
Melody, what an incredible story of your grandmother! Thank you for sharing. When I think of generous giving, I think of Terrie. We were called pastors sharing one salary. I think the total was around 12,800 dollars per year. We did have a house provided, but as children came along, it was not a lot of money. Terrie insisted on tithing. I remember when we sent Christian off to college, I wanted to cut back on our tithe. Terrie said, “We can’t afford not to tithe.” She was an inspiration!! When we give from our poverty instead of our surplus, I know it is a great blessing to God!
This is a little widow’s mite story from our family. When Kameron (our second son ) was in college, he was very, very poor. For Mother’s Day that year he made coupons for me i.e. Good for one car wash; Good for one I house cleaning, etc. I never turned them in, because they were so precious to me and I just kept the cards. Every time I run across them, I get choked up as they represent his heart - one of such service. He is still this way today now age 29.