March 12 | Bible in a Year: Deuteronomy 14–16; Mark 12:28–44
Out of Our Poverty
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.
READ Mark 12:38–44
Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates made history when they launched the Giving Pledge, promising to donate half of their money. As of 2018, this meant giving away 92 billion dollars. The pledge made psychologist Paul Piff curious to study giving patterns. Through a research test, he discovered that the poor were inclined to give 44 percent more of what they had than wealthy people. Those who’ve felt their own poverty are often moved to greater generosity.
Jesus knew this. Visiting the temple, He watched the crowds drop gifts into the treasury (Mark 12:41). The rich tossed in wads of cash, but a poor widow pulled out her last two copper coins, worth maybe a penny, and placed them into the basket. I picture Jesus standing up, delighted and astounded. Immediately, He gathered His disciples, making sure they didn’t miss this dazzling act. “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others,” Jesus exclaimed (v. 43). The disciples looked at each other, bewildered, hoping someone could explain what Jesus was talking about. So, He made it plain: those bringing huge gifts “gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything” (v. 44).
We may have little to give, but Jesus invites us to give out of our poverty. Though it may seem meager to others, we give what we have, and God finds great joy in our lavish gifts.
By Winn Collier
REFLECT & PRAY
God, I don’t feel like I have much to offer. My gifts feel puny and worthless. But I’m here. All of me. Will You receive me in my poverty?
What does it mean for you to give out of your poverty? How can you give “everything” for Jesus today?
The celebration of generosity shared by Jesus in Mark 12:43–44—especially the idea of giving out of one’s poverty—is also reflected in the apostle Paul’s account of the churches of Macedonia. During a severe trial, “their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2). They gave “even beyond their ability” (v. 3) because they regarded it “the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people” (v. 4). The secret to the Macedonians’ generosity was that “they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then . . . also to us” (v. 5). In other words, their prior allegiance to Jesus was expressed in their commitment to the welfare of others.
Ultimately, generosity can’t be forced because it’s a dynamic of the heart. So, Paul says, “each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (9:7).