Nothing to Give – The Poor Widow Who Gave Everything She Had
By Steph Nickel
Have you ever felt that you have nothing give? Steph reminds us that we might have more than we think, just like the poor widow who gave everything she had.
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Nothing To Give
I never went to college. Who will listen to me?
I rush around from morning till night. How can I take on any more?
I can barely pay my bills. How can I give what I don’t have?
Mark 12: 41-44 tells a different story. “And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on’” (ESV)
By the world’s standards, this widow was destitute. How could she be expected to put anything in the offering box? And if she did, what good would it do anyone? Why would the Lord take note of her?
When I was reviewing these verses, I saw things from a brand new angle. (I was just saying recently that it’s amazing how many times we can come to a familiar passage in God’s Word and see something we’d never seen before. We will never exhaust all there is to learn from the Scriptures. Isn’t that exciting?)
Widows were among the most insignificant members of society in that day. With no family to provide for them and no social programs to meet even their most basic needs, they often ended up like this woman, poor and destitute. Sadly, they were easy to ignore.
And what about a widow who wanted to make a difference? One who wanted to share the little she had? One who wanted to honour God?
The Poor Widow
The Lord, however, didn’t see it as meaningless and irrelevant. He said, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Was He speaking literally or figuratively? Had she really put in everything she had? Did she really go away with nothing?
Whatever the case, we have much to learn from this woman. In many ways, she is just like us and we like her.
In what ways?
She could have made excuses.
Are you like me? Do you come up with all kinds of excuses not to do the things God clearly lays out in His Word?
Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV).
Although I’m doing better this year, I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. Still, I haven’t always been faithful to study His Word diligently, to “handle it rightly.”
My prayer life is erratic. I often offer what has been referred to as “popcorn prayers,” but too often I’ve neglected to set aside time specifically to being still and giving God my undivided attention.
And what about fellowshipping with other believers? I’m too busy. I can’t add another thing to my schedule. I go to church on Sunday.
It would have been reasonable not to expect anything more from this woman.
This widow set a godly example of what to do in times like this—even though she had no idea that Jesus Himself would point her out to others. She was giving in what she likely thought was obscurity. But still, she gave.
What she had to offer seemed inconsequential compared to the offering of others.
We often feel this way.
So and so is much more creative than I am. They’re retired; so they have lots of time on their hands. People listen to him when he speaks.
We must re-evaluate our reasoning. We must ask ourselves some probing questions. We must learn from the widow’s example.
What do I have on hand? Am I willing to offer it to the Lord? Even if it seems insignificant, will I trust that He can use it to bring Himself glory and bless others?
This passage could easily inspire an entire series of devotionals—something else I hadn’t considered when I chose this passage. And yet, for today, let’s ask God to show us one thing He would have us offer to Him. Like the widow, let’s learn to offer Him what seems insignificant. What requires sacrifice on our part. What may not measure up to the offerings of others.
Is there a way we can offer out of our poverty rather than our excess? Let’s ask the Lord if that’s what He is calling us to give.
Let’s learn how this widow was just like us—and why none of us can say, “I have nothing to give.”
Learn about other Women of the Bible:
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.
Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.
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