While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. "I tell you the truth," Jesus said, "this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has." Luke 21:1-4
Gift-giving and generosity are vastly different. Gift-giving makes us feel good about ourselves. Generosity makes us feel good about God. This difference was depicted in the story of the rich people and the poor widow. The difference in the story is much less about the amount they gave and much more about the heart of the giver.
The rich people gave a little bit but most certainly did no damage to their own wealth. This was not a sacrifice; it was a token of obligation. The poor widow, however, gave a sizable percentage of her money. She gave as an act of selfless generosity. This action did three things. It showed that she was not just focused on herself, she trusted God to meet her personal needs, and she gave God access to all she had.
Most of us have a lot to learn from this woman. Instead of telling God how much we can give, what if we let God decide? What if we trust that God will give far more generously to us than we would give to ourselves? Generosity is critical to finding freedom from self and self-interest that entraps us.
Prayer: Jesus, All I have is from you. Please help me to be open-handed with everything I have. Help me to trust you with my needs and see the needs all around me. Amen.