Clatter, clatter, clink was the sound that resonated within the walls of the ornate architecture surrounding the temple courts. The wealthy, in all their grandeur, would swoop up, one after another, and drop their many coins into the cistern, listening proudly as their contribution turned heads at the clamorous sound it made swirling down to their resting place in the collection box. Finally, it was her turn. She stepped forward, her posture bent as if trying to make herself small and invisible. She opened her hand and gazed at the two small coins that she held in the palm of her hand.
The two coins, the sum of which doesn’t add up to a penny, had been given to her by the Temple Court so that she, a poor widow, could purchase something to eat for that day. She weighed her choice carefully. She could give one of the coins and use the other to at least buy one small square of bread or she could give both to the freewill offering before her. She held out her hand as she opened her fist and gently placed both coins in the cistern, watching as they swirled down into the box with hardly a sound. Her giving didn’t turn heads by any who gathered in the courts. No one looked to give her the respect that they had given those who gave large amounts, but there was One, who stood in the back, watching her intently as she openheartedly gave all that she possessed. In His eyes, her act of selflessness wasn’t lost. In His eyes, her gift was far more valuable than any other that was given because she gave everything. This insignificant woman, by society’s standards, thought it more important that she give back to God what she possessed instead of using it for herself. She, in her heart, trusted that God would provide for her and so she gave. Jesus drew the attention of his disciples to this one act of gratitude, saying to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44) What an impact this woman made on the Son of God!
As we head into the holiday season, think about your own spirit of giving. It is important to remember that the value of a gift is not measured by its amount, but by the spirit in which it is given. When you give grudgingly or you give for recognition, the gift loses its value. It is important to also remember that the act of giving doesn’t have to be in monetary form. The giving of your time, an act of kindness, an encouraging word in a chaotic world can be the best gift to the one on the receiving end. To God, it isn’t the size of the gift that is pleasing to Him, but it is the attitude of the heart out of which it is given. A heart of gratitude and a spirit of generosity catches the attention of the One who watches you intently from the back of the room. In the days and weeks ahead, keep your eyes open for the opportunities to open your hand and give graciously with whatever resources that you have at that time. Thank God for what He has given you and thank Him for the chance to share it with those He has placed in your path. Happy Heart of Thanksgiving!