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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

The Meager and the Much

You know the stories of the the poor widow widow's gift and Mary's extravagant gift. We don't usually read them together because of their contrast. However, Jesus often turned our evaluations upside down, so read them again as if they happened at the same time.

A poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies. (Luke 21:2, 3a)

Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume from essence of nard,

and she anointed Jesus' feet with it. (John 12:3)

The widow brought her two coins, worth less than a penny, to the Temple. She would have called her gift “nothing” because she compared it to what she could not give. But Jesus knew she gave what the others did not with all their clanging coins. She gave her heart.

On a different occasion, Mary brought an expensive jar of perfume, essence of nard imported from the Himalayas, worth a year’s wages. She gave it to Jesus in an unusual and scandalous way. She poured it on his feet. The gasp must have been as audible as the fragrance was powerful. Jesus saw her heart, too. The gift of her heart was incalculable.

The generous heart will always find a way to give. A closed heart will always calculate

Financial counsellors would reprimand both women because these people determine worth in terms of buying power. Judas revealed this lean when he called Mary’s gift a complete waste. The disciples with Jesus in the Temple probably didn’t even notice the widow until Jesus called their attention to her.

How do you compare the meager gift of last coins with the extravagance of expensive perfume? There is only one way and that is to look at the heart, which we cannot do. But Jesus can. To him, what the widow gave was of equal value as the extravagance of Mary because each gave from their heart. Careful restraint was not in either of their hearts’ vocabulary.

Jesus knows the generous heart will always find a way to give. He knows that a closed heart will always calculate. How does he know this? Because he came to give his heart to us. All of it. To accept his heart-gift, we must give all of ours to him. A generous heart grows from that exchange.

Jesus know the generous heart will always find a way to give.

What do you call generous that Jesus calls meager? What do you call meager that Jesus calls generous? Whose measurement should change?

My Prayer

Extravagant Jesus,

My heart measures wrong values.

I withhold out of the fear of giving too much or not enough.

But when I understand the value of your gift to me,

I touch unbounded generosity.

Remove my tendency to calculate, compare, or control.

I want to be generous with my meager and my much.

Still Learning

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