The Bible is rife with nameless people. This is because during the time that it was written, it was mainly people of high social standing that were referred to by their actual titles in text. Such standing did not just come as a result of money, for example, but also gender biases because women were considered to be beneath men at the time. As a result, quite a few of the females featured in the Bible have no name. Examples of this are captured in the Bible’s narrative on people like Potiphar’s wife and Lot’s wife, and can also be seen within the story of “The Widow’s Mite” (in which we are only told about the lady’s lowly social status and nothing else, including her name). Despite this, this lady’s position in history has been elevated because Jesus chose to use her actions as a teaching opportunity. Let’s see what this was!
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The story of the widow’s mite can be found in both Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4. In it, Jesus sits opposite the treasury within the temple watching people as they fill it with their money. Many rich people come up and, as expected, put lots of money in the treasury. Then a poor widow comes up but is only able to contribute two coins or “mites”. As a result of her actions Jesus spoke to His disciples and said that, although it would have seemed that the rich people gave the most, the widow actually had. This is because they gave out of their “abundance” whereas she offered God most of her livelihood, despite her poverty.
Through Jesus’ response to the widow, we learn that God prefers quality over quantity. This is demonstrated by the fact that Jesus remained silent and unfazed by the amount that the rich people gave but was so moved by the actions of the poor widow that Mark 12:43 says He “called His disciples to Himself” or gathered them around in order to point her out.
The fact that Jesus had to direct His disciple’s attention to the widow shows that they probably hadn’t noticed her amid all the pomp of the rich and the beauty of the temple’s surroundings (Luke 21:5; Mark 13:1). However, Jesus was impressed by the widow and focused on her because He knew that the rich could afford what they donated as it was surplus to their needs whereas what the widow gave represented sacrifice- both in terms of what she could have used it for instead, being impoverished, and the investment of time, effort and energy it would have taken her to earn that money in the first place.
Jesus was moved by her because He recognised the amount of love and faith in God that it would have taken her to obey Him and give of her substance (like Joanna and Susanna did) compared to everyone else. This just goes to prove that the Lord truly “does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.
What about you, lovely? Can you name the areas where you feel overlooked even as you read? For example:
- Are you feeling underappreciated within your relationships?
- Do you feel unrecognised for your contributions at work?
- Does it feel like you are constantly being bypassed and that your efforts go unnoticed no matter how hard you try?
- Have you ever felt disadvantaged, like the widow, and like nobody knows your name?
Well, she wrestled with such feelings on a daily basis given her circumstances; yet our spiritual mother kept her integrity and continued to do what God placed on her heart “as to the Lord and not to men”. She gave her best although it didn’t make sense to and, as a result, she was acknowledged and exalted by the person whose opinion matters most- Jesus. The widow’s story is a reminder that God sees your sacrifice- whether it be of time, effort, energy or money-even when it seems that nobody else does. As frustrating and painful as it may be, remember that your validation ultimately comes from God and not from man.
By the same token, being a disciple of Christ means that you have made a commitment to follow in His footsteps. We are not just called to accept His grace and freedom from judgement but to extend it to others, for freely we have received; so freely we should give. Want to know how?