He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
Alright, walk with me for a second as I engage in a little theological speculation.
Throughout this week we’ve touched on some passages of Scripture that seem to contradict each other. Jesus wants us to be like the faithful servants who invest their master’s money, but he also wants us to sell our possessions and follow him. What should we do with these contradictions? Should we liquidate our assets and make a big donation to a charitable organization, choosing instead to live on the streets? Should we invest our money in a start-up and see how much return we can get?
I believe (and this is the opinion of a layman, so feel free to ignore), that those who have blessings have an obligation to serve those who do not. The bible is filled with directives to care for the widow and the orphan, who were the most vulnerable members of society. Likewise, I think those of us who have been blessed with financial stability have a responsibility to care for those who do not. The more that we have, the more is expected of us.
Consider the passage we just read, again. Yes, the widow’s sacrifice was worth more because it was all she had, but why was she so poor in the first place!? We just talked about how many times the phrase “care for the widow and orphan” is mentioned in Scripture. God-fearing Jews would have known to care for the needy in their society.
Jesus commended the faithfulness of the widow in this story, but the seemingly large contributions of the wealthy men are an indictment on their failure to notice the most vulnerable people around them.
God wants us to use what we have to build his kingdom. And in his Kingdom, the least, last, and lost are protected! God wants us to be responsible managers of our money in pursuit of kingdom-building. He recognizes the inequity in society and wants his children to help one another. Those who grow rich have more difficulty entering heaven than a camel passing through an eye of a needle because there are still “poor widows and orphans” among us: victims of abuse, people with disabilities, victims of systemic and structural injustice, addicts, people stuck in a cycle of poverty, etc.
It’s easy to isolate ourselves from the suffering of others, but if you have been blessed with money, health, energy, intelligence, patience, time, strength, or a score of other gifts, remember that there are billions of widows and orphans, made in the image of God, who need you.