The Truth Behind the Widow’s Last Two Coins!

I'm sure you've heard the story of "the widow's mite". It's the parable Jesus tells in the Bible about the widow who gives who last two coins -- all she had! -- to the offering plate. The story

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of “the widow’s mite”.

It’s the parable Jesus tells in the Bible about the widow who gives who last two coins — all she had! — to the offering plate.

The story is usually told by preachers in a way that uplifts the widow as doing something honorable.  The fact that she gave all she had is held up as an honorable act that we should all strive towards.  The story is all about percentages.  The widow gave only two coins, but it was 100% of what she had, so it was “more” than what everyone else gave.  Especially the rich rulers.

The problem is that this too often gets used in a heavy-handed way, right about the time the church has a giving campaign for a new construction project.

So what’s up with the story?  Why would God put it in there?

Well, here’s the truth.  The story has been totally misunderstood and misapplied because no one has bothered to read the verses right before it.

The parable appears in both Mark 12 and Luke 20.

Here it is, in Mark 12:

The Widow’s Offering

41 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. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.

43 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. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

When you read that story in a vacuum, especially with the heading that the editors dropped in, you would have trouble coming any other conclusion than the fact that the widow was doing the right thing.  That we should ALL give this much!

But, when you read it in context of the whole chapter, an entirely different story emerges!

Here’s the zoom out view, with three additional verses added in:

38 Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. 39 And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 40 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.”

The Widow’s Offering

41 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. 42 Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.[j]

43 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. 44 For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

What a huge change in meaning!

All of a sudden, you have Jesus teaching them to beware of the teachers of religious law!  Why?  Because “they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property”.  Then in the very next line it’s Jesus saying:  Like this widow here….look at her!  She was down to her last two coins and they’ve conned her into giving them both.  Giving everything she owned!

Moral of his story?  Don’t be like these teachers!

The widow should keep her last two coins and, in fact, the church should be helping her!

Folks, this is danger of proof texting.  Of taking four verses of one particular story and not reading what comes right before or right after it!

Certainly the editors didn’t do us any favors with the subtitle they put in there to break up the story.

So the next time you see a church or a preacher using this story as a heavy-handed tactic to get people to give more…..run!  Run fast and far away!  These are the teachers Jesus warned to beware of!  He called them “shameless” and said they would be “severely punished”.  Those are his words, not ours.

Beware!

To the contrary, God loves a cheerful giver!  Someone who gives under no compulsion.  Because they want to!

Like it says in 2 corinthians 9:7:

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Please SHARE this story to expose the truth about this parable!

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!

chris@langpaul.com

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