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The Scriptorium

The Faithful Widow

Like her, we have two mites. Luke 21.1-4

Luke 21 (1)

Pray Psalm 125.1, 2.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 2.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!
Like the hills surrounding safe Jerusalem,
Christ surrounds His Church and holds her in His mighty Hand!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Read and meditate on Luke 21.1-4.

1. What did the widow give?

2. How did Jesus respond to her gift?

Do you suppose that, at Luke 20.47, Jesus knew this widow was coming toward the treasury with her gift in hand? Chapter 21 begins with a graphic illustration and contrast of the difference between sham religion and genuine faithfulness.

The scribes, whom Jesus has just roundly exposed and warned the people against, were standing right there with Jesus as this widow approached. They saw her deposit her “two mites” (v. 2), which was “all the livelihood that she had” (v. 4). They heard Jesus commend her faithfulness, which they would not have noticed, amid all the lavish giving of the “the rich” (v. 1) unless Jesus had pointed it out. Surely, at least some of those scribes must have been deeply shamed.

Was the widow acting foolishly? Didn’t she know these nattily-dressed and well-fed religious bullies were taking advantage of her and everyone else? She probably did. But their sin was their problem. What God required of her, she would not fail to fulfill. She gave her last penny to the Lord, a token of her love for Him and her complete trust in His love and provision for her. Her meager gift was “more than all”, Jesus reckoned (v. 3), because she gave obediently, out of the sincerity of her faith.

We have “two mites” to give to the Lord, as Matthew Henry explained: our soul and our body. We must give them entirely to Him, day by day, offering ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord (Rom. 12.1, 2) and seeking to glorify Him in even the smallest details of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31). Give everything to Jesus and you’ll always have everything you need.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Tim. 5.3-5).

Jesus referred to this dear woman as “a certain poor widow” (Lk. 21.2), so she must’ve been a real widow. A woman without children or grandchildren alive to care for her, who was trusting in God, and spending much time in prayer. She would also have had to fulfill some qualifications: over sixty years of age, the wife of one man at a time, well reported for good works which consisted of raising children, lodging guests, caring for the saints of God, relieving the needs of the afflicted, and diligently following every good work (1 Tim. 5.9, 10).

The temple leadership should have been caring for this woman. I fear that they were not, because she was deemed to be so poor that she only had two mites left to her name.

This was something that the New Testament Church did do. In fact, the proper care for widows is what brought about the commissioning of the first deacons (Acts 6.1-7).

So this passage in Luke 21.1-4 might have been seen more as a descriptive reenactment of the wicked scribes “who devour widows’ houses” than about the noble giving practices of the poor. Jesus’ ministry worked that way. He would teach something, or tell a parable, and then right afterward a real-life example would occur; to impress upon His followers what He was talking about.

So many things that were wrong with the former religious way of life, Jesus made sure to remedy in His plans for the Church. Does your church care for its widows?

Jesus set up many wonderful guidelines for His Church—that Church against which the gates of hell will not be able to prevail. The Church built solely on the premise that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God

(Matt. 16.16-19). And that Church in which we become citizens of His Kingdom, and we live for His glory. In that Church widows will not suffer but will be cared for with the utmost tenderness. And there will not be leaders who devour anyone’s house for their own gain. A loving adherence to the Law of God will be taught and lived out in love (Matt. 22.37-40). And this Church will be “the joy of the whole earth” (Ps. 48.2).

That is Jesus’ Plan for His Church. Are we following His guidelines, or are we merely making things up as we go? To suit our own plans? Or notions? Or whatever makes us feel good? Or accepted, or with the times? Just like the scribes. Please, no.

For the truth is: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13.8).

For reflection
1. How can you know what God is calling you to do in serving Him?

2. What should we do if we discover that our churches are not following the plan Jesus has revealed for us?

3. What does it mean for you to be a “living sacrifice” for Jesus?

Blessed Lord! the poorest of thy servants have two mites, they have a soul and a body; persuade and enable us to offer both unto thee; how happy shall we be in thine accepting of them!
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 21.1-4

Pray Psalm 125.3-5.

Thank the Lord for His faithfulness to you, day by day. Pray that He will make you faithful in all the everyday details of your life.

Sing Psalm 125.3-5, 1.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Wickedness shall rest not on this holy land.
Sinfulness shall never come forth from their hand. 
Trusting in the Savior, firm in His caress,
Ever shall His favor on this holy city rest.
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Lord, do good and care for those upright in heart.
All who turn to evil shall from You depart.
Sinful men may increase, on their way to hell!
Save Your people, let your peace abound in Israel!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the previous studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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