Posted on October 8, 2014
#74: A Mighty Mite
An old story tells of a conversation between a hen and a hog.
The hen approached the hog one day and said, “Our farmer has been so good to us. We always have plenty to eat. Our barn is warm and clean. We should show him how grateful we are. How about giving him a nice breakfast? I’ll provide the eggs and you provide the bacon.”
The hog backed away, protesting, “For you, that’s a donation. For me, it’s a sacrifice!”
The difference between donation and sacrifice is the level of loss. We “donate” old clothing to Good Will, spare change to the Salvation Army, or a couple dollars to a local school team. But “sacrifice” makes us swallow hard, count the cost. One is quickly forgotten; the other changes our lives—and often the lives of others.
Today’s scripture centers around a famous account of sacrifice known as “The Widow’s Mite.” Get your Bible and read Mark 12:41-44.
Jesus found a good vantage point near the temple treasury boxes and sat down to watch. He saw many who gave donations from their abundance. He saw one who gave a true sacrifice out of her poverty.
A poor widow came into view and dropped in two small copper coins (a gift most people in the temple that day would’ve considered insignificant). She wasn’t aware Jesus was watching. She didn’t do it for His benefit or praise. She just gave.
She did what was right no matter what others did. She may have known firsthand the corruption of the Jewish leaders, and may herself have been a victim of the Pharisees Jesus had just condemned for devouring widow’s houses (v. 40). Yet she gave in obedience and worship, understanding that her gift was to God. If it was misused, she wasn’t to blame. She’d done her part in good faith.
And here’s where her gift becomes a sacrifice. Jesus said she’d given “everything—all she had to live on.” In other words, when her fingers released those coins, she didn’t know how she was going to pay her bills or where her next meal was coming from. She was the ultimate example of Psalm 4:5, “Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” Her simple act with two tiny coins was actually a gift to God of total trust.
I’ve been privileged to see modern-day examples of sacrificial giving, though most are never seen. Examples include:
• A young man who gave his Jeep to a friend in need (didn’t loan it but gave it, titled it over)—leaving himself with nothing to drive. When the friend’s circumstances improved, he gave the Jeep back to its original owner who soon became aware of another struggling family and gave it away again.
• A Bible college professor who kept a car gassed up, insured, and available to loan to students who needed to get home or to doctor’s appointments, etc.
• A child who emptied the box he’d been saving his allowance in, giving it all when his heart was moved by a missionary with a need.
King David once wanted to build an altar to God, and needed to buy a certain plot of ground on which to do it. The owner, Araunah, immediately said, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.” (A sacrificial gesture of his own! See 1 Chronicles 21:22-25.)
But King David told Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not . . . sacrifice to the Lord a burnt offering that cost me nothing.” David knew the cost was part of the gift.
So what about us? Is our giving to God limited to donations—gifts that are quickly forgotten? Or do we know what it means to sacrifice—gifts that cost us, gifts that involve trust, gifts that impact our lives?
No one else in the temple that day saw the woman’s sacrifice, but Jesus did. He used the widow’s mite to teach His disciples an important lesson. That lesson endures for us today. And something tells me her needs were met.
You may not think your gifts—or your life—are worth much to a Lord who owns all. What counts to Him is not so much the amount of the gift as the attitude behind it. A heart that is willing to trust Him and withhold nothing is valuable. That person’s sacrifice—no matter how small—is, in His eyes, a mighty mite.
Thanks for joining me for today’s post in our study series, Knowing Jesus. If you follow this study but haven’t been receiving it by email, I invite you to subscribe on my web site at www.dianemcloud.com. Each post will be delivered straight to your inbox on Wednesday mornings. Your email address will be used for no other purpose. Have a great week!
© Diane McLoud 2014