Sunday, August 9, 2015

Luke 21:1-4 (NIV): Giving from the Core of our Humanity

Luke 21:1-4 (NIV): Giving from the Core of our Humanity

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus paints a stark contrast in character between the arrogant religious leaders depicted in Luke 20:45-47 and this poor, humble widow who offers up everything she has (21:4). Clearly, Jesus is showing the disciples that humility and self-giving are the ways of living for God, exemplified by the self-emptying and spiritual poverty of this widow. When the rich put in “their gifts,” which surely amount to more money than “two very small copper coins,” Jesus sees into their hearts.  The gifts of the rich are given out of obligation and worldly wealth. These are not gifts of the heart and true fruits of discipleship.  The poor widow, however, gives out of the core of her being: “[S]he out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Although this can mean that she puts in all her money and has nothing left on which to live, on a deeper level, the widow’s sacrifice points to a truth Jesus teaches us: We must give God our total selves, holding nothing back.  Total surrender to God is a recurring theme in the gospels, and in this image of spiritual poverty, Jesus calls every one of us to love more and give to God not from our wealth, for writing a check is easy, but to give from the core of our humanity, turning our hearts, minds, and spirits over to God.

What does giving from the core of our humanity look like? It looks like the mother who rocks her sick child to sleep even though mom is exhausted and has to get ready for work in an hour. It looks like the teacher who stays after school to help a struggling student even though the teacher has other assignments to grade or an appointment to make. It looks like someone who stops for a friend and offers a shoulder to cry on, listening and not speaking because all this person needs is a warm heart. It looks like a person in the store who offers to open the door for a struggling parent wielding a cart with three children screaming at each other. It looks like the relative who offers up their time to relieve the burdens of a family member, babysitting, cooking a meal, or cleaning. Giving from the core of our humanity is giving from our hearts; it is loving in a world that sometimes doesn’t love enough.