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Friday, February 7, 2014

The Widow's Might

Mark 12:41-44
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Widow’s Offering

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

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

What does this story have to say about self-esteem?
a. God's opinion of who we are and what we do is the one that counts.
b. God doesn't judge our worth by assets, abilities or appearances.
c. Anyone can make an important contribution to God's kingdom.
d. God is aware of what we do for him, no matter how insignificant it seems to others or ourselves.
(Serendipity Bible 10th anniversary edition, page 1418).

When when will we ever cease being more impressed by power than by spirit? That is the key question. The story of the widow's offering buttresses – indeed redeems – the self-esteem of people with power deficits. It is shown that such deficits are irrelevant in the eyes of God - anyone can make an important contribution to God's kingdom. And this is true and operative no matter what others think or indeed even what we think.

The irony that lies at the core of belief is that the last shall be first, and the first last. This is true in the world of meaning—a world that has more final importance and sway in human affairs than all the mere accoutrements of power. For meaning has to do with perception and perception with great facility undercuts power symbols – for symbols gain their strength from meaning but meaning is finally ruled by spirit—The Kingdom of God.

That is, we can have our coffers overflowing with highrolling symbols – but their value can be undercut instantly by perceptual shifts. That was the grave danger that Jesus presented. The great light of spirit and meaning that shone upon the world devalued in place the currencies of the power structure—and the diminishing of property values is the ultimate sin of the righteous. The power structure in disgust murmurs “there goes the neighborhood!” But they are powerless to doing anything effective about it.

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