“He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites” Luke 21:2
Among other things, the five principles given in the law (Deuteronomy 17:15-20) for Israel’s future kings include: not building military might so as to depend on it rather than God (v 16), and not to build wealth beyond immediate needs, also so that dependence on God seemed unnecessary. Solomon didn’t keep any of the five principles and the wealthiest and strongest kingdom divided before disintegrating and falling.
When Jesus “saw the rich putting their gifts into the [temple] treasury” (v 1) He saw not the gift but the heart of the giver. They “gave out of their abundance” such that it would have minimal impact on their way of life. They gave openly for show and for the praise of men not out of a heart for God and not for His praise.
On the other hand Jesus also “saw a poor widow putting in two mites” which is as small an amount as it could be. A widow had no husband to provide for her and there was certainly no government pension forthcoming from Rome for a Jew. We aren’t told whether she had sons to help provide for her although the context would suggest that she did not. Jesus is looking on the heart of the giver not on the amount given.
Jesus says that the widow’s two mites is much more than the rich man’s tithes and offerings. The reason He gives lies in the phrase, “but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood she had” (v 4). It isn’t even a matter of percentage that Jesus is concerned with; in fact He is not concerned with the mathematics at all.
The rich man retained most of what he received for his own pleasure and so that he would not need to depend on the Lord for his daily needs. But the widow gave all she had demonstrating that she was totally dependent upon the Lord for her next day’s provision and beyond. The reason Jesus said that she gave more than the other is because she demonstrated her total faith in Him to provide for her – by giving herself without reservation. Israel’s experience in the wilderness with the manna is an illustration of daily dependence upon the Lord.
This revelation given by Jesus is not so that we will necessarily give all the money that we have, because that was not the issue. The issue is where our heart is. Does He have our heart? To evaluate ourselves we must look at why we retain possessions and what we do with them. This will help us to evaluate whether we keep and store to avoid dependence upon the Lord (i.e. we don’t trust Him).
The kingdom of God is built on the widow’s mite – not on the rich man’s tithes and offerings. This will seem weird and wrong to the pragmatist in us, but perfectly in harmony with the Holy Spirit in us.
We will be free with our finances in measure with our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.