Today I'm linking up with Five Minute Friday, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is LESS.
(Last week I wrote my FMF post about an episode from the Gospels, so I thought I'd do the same here. There is so much to unpack in the stories of Jesus!)
In Luke 21:1-4 we read,
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”
This sounds like an inspiring story of generosity: this poor widow had so much less than the other people there, but proportionally she gave more -- "everything she had to live on" -- so Jesus was praising her for her selfless act and reminding his watchers to give generously of their money too, just as she was doing.
But it may be that Jesus wasn't holding her up as an example at all. Instead, he may have been commenting on how this woman was the victim of an unfair and demoralizing system. Quite likely she felt she had no choice but to give to the temple treasury; the religious leaders probably had her convinced that it was her duty. After all, in the verses right before this scene, at the end of chapter 20, Jesus is harshly critical of the religious leaders who "devour widows' houses." And if she was so poor that her small contribution left her penniless, why weren't the religious leaders helping her out?
This probably isn't a "God loves a cheerful giver" feel-good story. It's a reminder that God isn't pleased when those in power take advantage of those who have less, making them feel obliged to perform pious acts without helping them when they need it most.