Week of January 21

What Sound Does Two Small Coins Make in Your Heart?

Read: Exodus 1-2; Psalm 88; Luke 21
“Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:3–4, ESV


Little things often count in a big way. Bolts on a Boeing 737 Max door that rips off while in flight, thus endangering the lives of all onboard, comes to my mind. What appeared to be inconsequential held deep significance, because human lives were at stake. Two small coins in an offering box hardly mean anything except when they represent the attitude that is a must for all who enter the kingdom of heaven! Let me explain in today’s devotional.
Luke 19:45-21:4, which encompasses our focal passage, provides us with a view of the final confrontations that Jesus had in His earthly ministry. Jesus’ rule will be radically different, and I suppose that there is no better way to determine where a person stands on this claim than to see in what, and where, he or she invests money—a god of this temporal age. Jesus demonstrates that true wealth is not so much about the sound of clanging coins in an offering box, but in the calling of God echoing throughout one’s life.

The Meaning of the Text

The big picture
Our context here includes a condemnation of hypocritical scribes (20:45-47) and praise for a dirt-poor widow’s simple, giving spirit (21:1-4). She models a sacrificial faith. We would say, on this side of the cross, that hers was a resurrection faith, because it embodied the type of sacrifice Jesus would soon make on the cross. Jesus gave His all so that His life would abide in all who truly follow Him (Galatians 2:20). The woman demonstrates the supreme value she places upon the giving heart, which was something that the temporal could never touch. Jesus commends her right priorities (21:3). This praise for her sacrificial gift illustrates the radical shift in values that Christ’s disciples are to model.
A lesson in hubris
So much is taking place physically and spiritually in this chapter of Luke. Imagine for a moment that you are standing with Christ and the disciples in the busy crowd gathered around that offering chest. I have often wondered what Jesus saw or heard that led to this pronouncement in the critical last days before being arrested. Luke uses a Greek participle that can mean “hurling” or “letting something fall.” The scribes certainly made a great show of their donations and prayers (20:47). However, I believe Jesus focuses on them to illustrate publicly what they had shown themselves to be privately in their confrontations with Him (20:45ff.). They were bloated with pride. This moment was the object lesson, and it must have had its full impact on the disciples, because Luke records the event.
Risking all for that which must come as a gift!
The woman’s gift surely led the disciples to think, “What on earth is two lepta good for?” These were the smallest coins in use and worth only a fraction of a day’s wage. When they (or we) think like that, then an earthly economy has rolled over our minds like a cool and dense fog. It’s hard to spark a flame of eternal glory inside a damp brain (cf. Acts 2:3)! Jesus shines the light of glory on her, however, when He noted that her extreme poverty was evident in the extraordinary nature of her gift (Matthew 5:3; note, poverty is both physical and spiritual). She gave toward that in which she hoped!

The Message for Your Heart

I have experienced similar moments in ministry, but one such giving encounter has become the model by which I have come to measure my own spiritual sacrifice. A family of five women were members of a church I served as pastor. There was a matriarch in her 70s, her two daughters, and two granddaughters, who all lived together in a modest home. The women worked in housekeeping for a nursing home where their jobs were difficult, and the pay was minimal.

I recall visiting in their home one evening during the Christmas season when they had just cashed their paychecks. The had all their earnings in a white envelope, and they were dividing the money among themselves. I tried to be funny and asked where my Christmas gift was? They grew silent, then stepped several feet away from me and formed a huddle where they whispered to each other and began to giggle. They turned to me and said, “Brother Larry, we want to give you and Shawna an early Christmas gift.” They handed me some cash and literally danced with joy that they had an opportunity to give me what surely was a sacrificial gift.
I stood before them in a state of shock, like I am sure the disciples felt that day with Jesus. I realize now that I was standing before the Lord in that moment. I thought to myself, “How can this be?!” My heart whispered to me, “This is how giving should be.” The more I attempted to return the gift, the more they pushed it back into my hands with smiles on their faces. Christ showed me that evening the heart of a person who loves Him to the core. He loved me to the very depths of my being and calls for me to love Him in the same way. You see, love gives. When we love Jesus, we give and serve unto Him in all we do.

For Thought and Action

1. I know it is tax season, but I am thinking about another type of audit. Ask the Lord to step in and appraise your level of sacrifice. I am not referring only to financial sacrifice. Invite Him to check the value of your coming inheritance (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5).

2. For Families: Your children can act out this story with creative drama! Tell them the story, and assemble several towels and bathrobes for costumes. Provide them with two pennies for the woman’s gift, and use bricks or something similar, wrapped in shiny paper, for the heavy “gold and silver” the scribes dropped into the offering chest.

Now ask your children to write the script for, practice, and put on a play about this Bible story. Ask one of them to be the narrator who explains what is happening, and who tells why it is important to us today. Enjoy the play, and then celebrate the acting by enjoying homemade cookies or a treat.

Share with your children about the offering we give to God at church. It is an act of worship. People who love God give to Him. What can your children give? Invite them to earn some money by doing special jobs or chores, and then show them how to give that money back to God.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock