Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Widow’s Mite and Its Relevance for Us Today

From Liberia-

The Bible contains accounts of two widows whose exemplary giving teaches us a lot about giving and about stewardship in general. One widow gave to a prophet and received a prophet’s reward. Another widow put into the temple’s collection plate whatever little she had, and Jesus took notice and highly commended her for giving more than all the rest.

Let us go over these two short stories recorded in the Bible and see what lessons they have to teach us about stewardship. There was once a widow who lived in Zarephath during the time of Elijah, one of the greatest Old Testament prophets (1 Kings 17:8-16). Because of the sinful ways of King Ahab and his people, the prophet Elijah prophesied that there would a three-year drought, which came to pass. God told Elijah to go to this widow and be fed by her.

Elijah met the widow at the city’s gate and asked her for a drink and a piece of bread. She replied the prophet, “I am gathering a few sticks so that I may prepare the last little food I have for my son and I to eat, then die.” She prepared the last bit of food she had and shared it with her son and the prophet. After the meal the prophet spoke these words to her: “For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord God sends rain upon the earth.’” And the widow and her son had enough food for many days! She was generous with the little she had and her own needs were taken care of.
One day, Jesus and his disciples attended a temple worship service (Mark 12:41-45). During the offertory (collection time) many people put into the collection box large amounts of money; but Jesus noticed in particular a poor widow who put in only two copper coins, all that she had to live on. Jesus drew the attention of his disciples and said, “This widow has given more than all the rest; for the others are giving only some of what they have but she has given everything she has, her very living!”

Some analyses show that a mite is equivalent to half a U.S. cent. What lessons can we glean from these widows to help us in our giving to God’s work and the good of one another?
Widows in biblical times constituted one of three groups that were the most vulnerable of society: widows, orphans and strangers. These three groups lived at the mercy of society. They had no one to plead and defend their cause. That is why God commanded his people to show mercy and take care of them.

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