November 9

November 9
by Gabe Tseng
Mark 12:41-44
“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.”

A fun passage to read in the context of Mark’s storytelling in chapters 11-12. There are words in the temple, turning away the “Den of thieves” while also warning the crowd of those who show a false humility. Then Jesus caps it off with a story of another widow who gave out of her poverty, not out of her abundance. It was so noteworthy that Jesus called His disciples over to make a big fuss about her. 

A phrase that rings in my mind is “difficulties will test a man, but success will often reveal it” 

And I suppose it depends on your definition of success. For some, it may be security and for others, it may be having limitless possibilities. However you define it, success will test a person in a different way than difficulty. My own family is not exempt from difficulty or struggle and we often feel that stability has often been lacking in our lives. Constant change has conditioned us to take less risk and even to take a more boring path. When we had less income, we were inclined to give less. We so wished we could give more to missionaries or good causes. We saw others suffering beside us and we offered to share a meal. We would have loved to bless them with a gift card if we were able at the time. And as I look back on those times, our hearts in troubled times were warmed to be much wider. When in times of plenty, when we could afford to be more generous, we chose to. 

There is a place for a “common grace” that we all can share. I love those moments. But I can also think of those times I was in great need, and a poor mentor of mine, struggling to pay rent, wrote me a $75 check b/c I was going to be eating peanut and butter jelly sandwiches for the next 2 months. An uncommon faith. and an uncommon grace- like this widow who gave out of her poverty, is what will stun the world around us, and best exemplifies the generosity and the grace of God. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus saw, not just a poor widow giving all she had, but maybe a rich woman, knowing the generous and rich God, allowed her to freely and cheerfully give what she knew was not hers, and trusted the Lord even more in that moment. 

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