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." Mark 12:43-44
Years ago one of the churches at which I was a pastor was trying to raise funds for a much-needed addition to our school. We received many large gifts, which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a wonderful outpouring of Christian dedication and stewardship.
Still, the gift I remember the most came from a second-grader. She emptied her bank and gave 87 cents. Her parents explained she believed in the school and had given every penny she had. In contrast, we adults gave a larger figure, but not a better or a more God-pleasing amount.
The reason I tell the story is because, last month, First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, received an envelope in their Sunday collection plate. Inside the envelope were a nickel, a dime, and three pennies.
On the outside of the envelope this was written: "Please don't be mad. I don't have much. I'm homeless. God bless."
The gift from that person of faith is a wonderful thing and a beautiful story. It makes all of us recall the story of the widow who put her two mites into the temple treasury. As Jesus noted, she put in more than everyone else because she gave what she had, not what she thought she ought, or could.
There is only one thing about this story that bothers me: the four words of the homeless individual: "Please don't be mad." Now I can tell you the folks at First United were moved, not mad. That reaction would be the same at any Christian church worth its salt.
The problem arises with the question, "Why did that contributor think it would be otherwise? What had happened in his or her past that would give credence to such a suspicion?" I can only guess that the individual might have been overawed by the dress of the worshippers and the vehicles they drove to church.
Still, it may be possible that somebody, at some time, maybe quite unintentionally, had made him feel second rate.
That possibility is something of which God's people need to be constantly aware. It is something we dare not let happen.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to be a Friend to those who were friendless, to be the Savior to all who were helpless sinners. He has freely given us forgiveness and salvation and wishes us to freely share His eternity-changing life with others -- all the others.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Paul told the Corinthian church that we have freely received His grace so we might abound in good works (see 2 Corinthians 9:8-9). Even as we have freely received, may we freely share and thereby glorify our Savior. In His Name we pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries