THE WIDOW’S TWO MITES
A Sermon by Rev. Frederick M ChapinApril 10, 1994
Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had. (Lk. 21:3&4)
Anytime we think about the world we live in, we are in awe of it. We are amazed at the tremendous distance that lie between the stars in the sky. And the things we observe in nature impresses us with their complexity. In fact, the operation of natural things can help strengthen our belief in the Lord. When we take note of the variety of activities in the universe, and yet, how they operate in perfect harmony, it can convince us even further that there is a God, and He does indeed sustain all life. The world of nature can assure us more that the Lord is infinite, and that we are always under His care. Indeed, the Psalmist was struck with a felling of humility and gratitude when he perceived the Lord’s power and wrote:
When I consider Your heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. (Ps 8:3-5)
We too can have our faith in the Lord confirmed, when we notice the beauty, complexity, and the magnitude of the universe we are a part of.
However, the world we live in can also have an opposite effect upon us. At times, when we notice the immensity of the universe, it can leave us with a sense of insignificance. The world will not change that much whether we are in it or not. Certainly, the vast majority of the world’s population are not even aware of our existence. And we are further discouraged when our deeds and accomplishments are not noticed or appreciated by those we do know. We feel a sense of uselessness in trying to do good, when seemingly no one cares or is aware of our efforts. Quite often, we might ask, “What is the use? Nobody seems to be effected by my efforts to be kind or useful.” We are tempted to abandon our efforts to perform uses towards others. We tend to believe that things will end up the same no matter what we do. Is there anything that can allow us to escape from this feeling of unimportance, even when our efforts go largely unnoticed?
Yes there is! We are assured that there is a real significance for our existence, even if our uses are not acknowledged directly. This is brought forth in the incident of a poor widow and her two mites. While the Lord was on the earth, He was observing some rich people putting money into the treasury of the temple. As they were giving their offerings, a poor widow came and put in two mites. A mite was the smallest coin in circulation at the time, only worth about one-eighth of a penny. In fact, the coin was called a mite because of its small size and value. Yet, surprisingly, the Lord stated that the widow gave more than everyone else. The Lord said she gave all she had, whereas the rich only gave a portion of their possessions. Therefore, the Lord saw something deeper in the widow’s gift than just her meager and almost insignificant offering. He saw her complete sacrifice.
Certainly, the Lord was not teaching that we must give all our money to the church, and live in utter poverty. Nevertheless, this poor woman serves as an illustration how we are to offer our spiritual lives to the Lord. We can not hold anything back just for ourselves, but we must make a total commitment to the Lord. We are taught that we totally submit ourselves when we have no desire to be led by self, but exclusively by the Lord. (AC 6138) The best way we can combat a feeling of worthlessness is to fully and completely submit to the Lord’s direction in our lives; and therefrom be happy and content with what we are given. The only way the Lord can make His presence known in our lives is for us to be willing to live the way the Lord wants us to live. When this willingness is there, the Lord is than able to make us happy from His Divinity. (AC 6138) When we sense the Lord’s presence in our lives, we will then sense a purpose and meaning for our existence that will not be dependant on the recognition of others. We will feel a part of the Lord’s operation in heaven and on earth, and we will sense that we are actively contributing toward it. If we are willing to submit completely to the teachings of the Word, than we are like the widow, putting all she had into the temple;’s treasury, and feeling the joy of such a sacrifice.
Furthermore, the teachings we receive concerning the relationship between particulars and generals can help us to know how we are to regard the purpose for our individual lives. What is general, or the whole, is made of individual elements. (AC 917, 1040:2) The human body, for example, consists of many distinct parts. This is also true of the Lord’s Church on the earth. It exists solely of those who seek to do good out of a sincere heart or motive. (TCR 767, AC 2405:7) If every member of the church were to abandon their efforts towards regeneration, the entire church on earth would immediately crumble. Therefore, when we seek to do our part in promoting good, even if, externally, we do not seem to make a major impact on the world around us, it does indeed serve to establish the church more firmly upon the earth.
When we strive to be governed by the Lord, He will insure that our talents will be in harmony with all the other abilities in His church. The individual acts are brought together when everyone looks towards a common end. (AC 1288) For example, an athletic team is made of individual players, each having a different responsibility. Some assignments get more attention than others. Yet, each player does his job to the best of his ability and tries to cooperate with the other players. And they are so conjoined when they each have a desire for the team to win. So it is with the church on earth. Some uses and responsibilities get more exposure and attention than other uses. But that does not mean that they are more important. If each member does his or her functions for the church, they are all equally contributing to the stability of the church on earth. And the common end or goal that unites the distinct uses of the church into a unity is a love towards the Lord and towards the neighbor. (AC 1288) When we strive to have the Lord operate in our lives through the obedience to His Word, and treat others as we would like them to treat us, we are then in the love that is from the Lord Himself. Divine love unites all uses into a beautiful form. When particulars or individual parts unite for a common purpose, there is order that is from the Lord. (TCR 60) Our lives are in Divine order when we act in association with others for a common purpose: the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom on earth. This unition gives our efforts towards good a permanent existence. (TCR 775) We need other people with different abilities to unite with so our uses will endure. Likewise, their abilities must unite with our own abilities so their uses will continue. This common need we have with each other unites all uses and makes the church act as a one, even though it consists of many individuals.
Therefore, when we feel our lives don’t make that much of a difference in the world around us, it is well to think of the widow’s two mites. Certainly, the two mites the widow gave did not make a tremendous impact upon the treasury of the temple. But because the widow was still willing to do her part, the Lord was able to draw out the maximize good from that single act. Likewise, if we perform our daily tasks as sincerely and honestly as we can, even though they may not appear to have a major impact on the world, we can still have the assurance the Lord is using our good deeds, and making them have the greatest effect. Charity is not measured by the size or magnitude of the act, but by the affection that motivates it. (TCR 489:9) This the Lord sees and blesses. And we can rejoice and be grateful that the Lord Himself is using us in His efforts to be more active among His creation. The Lord is able to see and use what is in our hearts. For we are promised: “… the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Sam 16:7) AMEN