Whenever I think about what Jesus taught us about giving, I cannot help but think about the poor widow and her offering at the temple gate. In Mark 12:41-44 we read the story: “Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.’” I wish we knew her name. She’s just some poor un-named character that appears for a brief second as an object lesson for you and me. We don’t think of the struggle she might have gone through with that offering. We don’t think of what she may have chosen to do without. We might wonder how she got along in life, what her occupation or source of livelihood was, but without a name is hard to picture her as a real human. She’s just an object lesson to us. But her example of self-sacrificial giving caught the attention of the Son of God and has become a part of the Christian message for thousands of years and on into eternity. What a great epitaph. She wrote her epitaph in one simple act of sacrificial giving.

You may know the story about Alfred Nobel. He invented dynamite and made millions of dollars from his invention. According to David Jeremiah he also invented other powerful explosive materials. He says, “Those materials, purchased by major governments around the world, were used to produce weapons of destruction. When Nobel’s brother died, one newspaper printed Alfred’s obituary by mistake. In it, Nobel was described as a man who became rich by enabling other people to kill each other in unprecedented numbers. When someone sent a copy to him, Alfred Nobel was so shaken by the assessment of his life that he resolved to use the fortune he had amassed to reward accomplishments that benefited humanity rather than destroy it. He established what we now know as the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Can I point out from Mark’s account of the widow’s two mites that Jesus was sitting by the place of worship and watching the rich and the poor alike as he evaluated their giving. What mattered to Him wasn’t the amount in comparison to what others might give. Rather what mattered was the amount according to what we had. It is the condition, readiness, of the heart to give that Jesus evaluates and Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 8:12. He writes, “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” When we’re in trouble or go through tough times in life, we often sing the great old hymn, “his eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” It’s certainly true! It’s also true regarding our giving. He sits at our places of worship and watches! Are we writing our own epitaphs?