As her mind brushed away the haziness of sleep, she was once again reminded of the many challenges facing her that day.
Her husband did not leave her in a good financial state. In fact, he left her with very little. Now on top of her grief and loneliness, she had the harsh realities of poverty.
Her life was hard. Still, she got out of bed and prepared to go to the Temple to worship God, for today she had a special gift to give to Him.
As she approached the Temple, she was overwhelmed by the magnificence of the structure. It was a beautiful building filled with treasures to honor Jehovah, the God of Israel. It was the pride of the Jewish people–a place to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Here they worshiped Jehovah, Who led His people out of captivity in Egypt, through the desert and into their Promised Land. He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and parted the Red Sea.
This same God sent His people into captivity when they didn’t obey Him, but He didn’t leave them there. In His tender compassion, He delivered His people after 70 years and restored them to their own land.
That was the God this Temple was build to worship and glorify. As she came to the Temple to worship, she knew she could rely on this same God to provide her needs and help her each day.
To this God, her God, she wanted to present her offering.
Still, as she approached the place to give her offering, she hoped that no one would notice her. She felt almost ashamed among the crowds of people. Most of them were giving far more that she could give. Dressed in their finest attire, they wanted everyone to see how much of their wealth they were giving God. They wanted people to admire their generosity.
She, on the other hand, wanted to escape unnoticed. Next to their grand attire, her widow’s mourning clothes and weary appearance made it obvious that she was poor. Her offering wouldn’t impress anyone–in fact, it might be ridiculed. After all, her two small copper coins were the smallest offering allowed to be given to the Temple.
To most, it seemed a pittance, but for her it was a sacrifice. It was all she could scrap together, all she had to live on for that day.
To her, it was everything.
But it was her heart’s desire to give an offering to God, so she saved and sacrificed, knowing that God knew her situation. Still, she hoped that no one noticed.
However, Someone did notice. The most important Someone noticed her.
Because of His enormous sensitivity and compassion, Jesus didn’t embarrass her by speaking to her or drawing public attention to her. She didn’t need that–her offering was a gift between her and God. It was their moment and she would be rewarded in Heaven.
Instead, Jesus called His disciples to Him, and in a very private discussion, He used her gift to teach us all. Although she thought she escaped unnoticed, Jesus saw deep inside her heart and praised her for what she had done.
Just what did Jesus see inside of her heart?
He saw a woman who deeply loved God. She loved Him so much that she wanted to give Him a gift to show Him her love. Like a small child who brings his Mom a present to say, “I love you”, this woman brought her gift to God.
That gift took great sacrifice on her part, but the sacrifice was overcome by the joy she felt at being able to show God that she loved Him. What a tremendous love Jesus saw inside of her!
He also saw that this woman had great faith. Here was a woman who had so little, but she knew she could rely on God to provide her needs. She knew that she could depend on Him, even when she had no one else to depend on. Having lost so much and having so little, she had every reason to have “trust issues”, especially with God. Yet, her actions show a faith and trust in God that defy reason.
As Jesus watched this woman, He saw faithfulness and loyalty in her heart. She had many reasons to be bitter and resentful at how her life turned out.
She could have become angry with God that her husband died and she was alone.
It would be understandable if she became resentful and jealous that she didn’t have the financial security other women had. Each hour of her hard, lonely life gave her a reason to feel sorry for herself and be angry with God.
However, this wasn’t the road she chose. Instead of running from God, she ran toward Him. She accepted that God allowed these things in her life and she depended on Him to help her through them. As she gave her gift, she proved that no matter what happened in her life, she would remain faithful to God and committed to Him.
Inside of this woman’s heart, Jesus saw strength.
He saw strength that can only come from a personal relationship with God. It was a strength that went beyond understanding because it came directly from God and her reliance on Him. How else could she find the courage to give all that she had?
This woman had a heart full of passion.
She wasn’t playing religion like so many others who were in the Temple that day. She didn’t give God a part of her life–she gave Him everything. Here was a heart that was so passionate in her love for God and her relationship with Him that she didn’t hold anything back. She was completely sold out in her commitment to her Heavenly Father.
When Jesus looked at her, he looked beyond her appearance and the amount of money she gave and He saw her heart. It was the admirable qualities that He found there that He praised and saw as valuable. It is those same qualities that He wants to find in our hearts today.
You see, when God looks at us, He doesn’t judge the way human beings do. People look on the outside.
We, very rarely, know the whole story of what is REALLY going on in someone’s life. Too often, without knowing all the facts, people look at others and say, “Is that all she can do or give? Why isn’t she giving more of her time, money, talents, self? Why isn’t she more involved in ministry or the church? Why doesn’t she do more?”
Like the onlookers at the Temple, these people are judging simply by what they see.
Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t do that.
When Jesus looks at our hearts, He wants to see women who are willing to love Him with all of their being.
He wants to have a personal relationship with you. A relationship where you rely on Him, depend on Him, and look to Him for strength and guidance. Out of that loving, intimate relationship, He wants you to willingly give all that you have to Him–just like the widow. He wants you to spend every day of your life doing what He wants you to do as an offering to Him.
That is what Paul meant in Romans 12:1 when he said, “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”
When He looks at our hearts, He wants to see that we love Him so much that we are willing to give every part of our lives to Him and trust Him to take care of us–just like the widow in the Temple.
If you are living your life directed by a sense of obedience, faith and passion that you are following God’s will for your life, then be encouraged. God sees your heart and He is pleased.
If you are a Mom who believes that God is calling you to invest your time raising your children for Him, then follow Him and don’t let anyone discourage you or distract you from your mission.
Maybe you are single and you feel God wants you to take a break from dating so you can spend more time with Him–do it. Don’t let fears or pressure from other people cause you to miss a special time with God. If you are following God, He will guide your steps and provide all of your needs in His time.
Perhaps there are others who feel that God is calling you to get your finances in order. Let me encourage you to obey God. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for the lifestyle changes you have to make. Don’t give money out of guilt–seek God’s will for your finances and only give when He tells you to.
Maybe the Holy Spirit is working on your heart, trying to clean up your past and help you overcome issues in your life. Go with it! Follow God’s will and do what He wants you to do because you love Him. Continue trusting Him and let Him be in control of your life. Obediently walk on the path that God has you on.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. As Christian women, there is only one Person’s approval that we need. He is the same Person Who noticed and approved of the widow in the Temple.
Jesus saw that she was giving all she had to God out of a heart of love. He said that her gift was the greatest gift of all.