Everyone Has a Story
This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:43
It’s easy, while visiting jail, to look down on those whose disastrous behavior seems worse than mine. Maybe I had a little problem with addiction, but at least I’ve never gone to prison. It’s easy to condescend to those individuals who’ve failed in ways I haven’t. When I listen to their stories though, learning of the horrible abuse and conditions they were raised in, I’m far less judgmental. I grew up in a loving home and still found my way to drugs. Many who struggle with addiction were dealt a far worse hand in life than I was. I see people in a far different light when I know their story.
This seems to be the case in today’s passage, where Jesus and the disciples sat at the temple, watching people deposit money into the offering box. The passage doesn’t say it, but I imagine this was something of a spectator sport. I can just see everyone sitting around judging people by the amounts offered. The rich deposited large sums, earning admiration from the crowd. They gave in part, to be praised by the onlookers.
Then came along this poor widow who deposited only a couple pennies. It must have been a joke to those watching. It likely embarrassed the widow to feel their judging eyes, but Jesus saw past the superficial. 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 (Mark 12:43-44).
The crowd judged the quantity of her gift, but Jesus judged by a different standard. He knew her back story and he knew what she had to give. By percentage of what she owned, this poor widow’s offering was a far greater gift than all the others. In the eyes of the world, she was the least. In the eyes of God, she was the greatest.
It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but everyone has a story. Everyone has something going on in their lives. We can sit back and be judgmental, or, like Christ, we can get to know the stories of those around us. When we do, we will often cease to be so judgmental as we see those whom God loves through his eyes.