November 5, 2013
READ: Mark 12:38-44
They gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on (v.44).
The 166 female inmates at in a Philippines jail didn’t have much. But as they saw it, others had even less. Typhoon Pablo had just swept over the southern Philippines, killing more than 1,000 human beings, splintering houses, annihilating crops and leaving nearly a million people homeless.
“Our situation is better than those who were hit by the typhoon,” said one inmate. Another added, “Somehow, we are still being blessed here.”
The inmates had recently celebrated Christmas, and small gift packets from charitable organisations had arrived. Some of the prisoners also earned a small amount of money by working on government sponsored community projects. They pooled their resources—including their meager Christmas gifts—to contribute clothing, packages of food and other essentials to typhoon victims.
Some might dismiss this warm and fuzzy news account as of little consequence in the face of widespread devastation. But Jesus never discounted the small things. When a poor widow gave her last coins to the temple treasury, He contrasted her with the religious big shots who made a show of their ‘spirituality’.
“How they love the seats of honour in the synagogues and the head table at banquets,” He said. “Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public” (Mark 12:39-40). But of the widow, Jesus said, “This poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions” (v.43).
It’s in our nature to whine about our ‘bad’ circumstances. But at any given mument, someone always has it worse. Rather than lamenting what we can’t change, let’s learn from that widow and from those residents of the prison by looking for what we can do. Even small gifts are multiplied in the hands of our generous God. —Tim Gustafson
Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 and learn about the generosity of the poor churches in Macedonia.
What are your chief complaints today? In what ways can you help someone else? Is there a relationship between your complaints and your opportunity to serve others?