Chapter divisions are sometimes out of place. Luke 21 is such a place. The chapter should have begun after verse 4. Verses 1-4 belong to chapter 20. Jesus had warned of the scribes that wore long robes. He told how they loved greetings in the markets and synagogues also the chief rooms of feasts. They were devouring widow’s houses. They made a public show of prayer. Jesus said that “the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:47). It is in this context that Jesus saw people casting into the treasury.
It was then that He “saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21: 2-4).
One cannot read these verses without noticing the contrast between the scribes, Pharisees, and this poor widow. The widow is a demonstration of how God intended for the Jewish system to affect people. Instead they were interested in ritual. Their religion was totally subjective and had no heart and soul in it. Jesus saw rich men casting into the treasury. Here is the contrast between the rich and the poor. The word abundance in verse 4 literally means to give “above and beyond” of that which they really did not need to begin with.
We need to think about this for a moment. Does our giving involve some sacrifice on our part? Are we out of the abundance doing our giving? The widow gave out of deficiency! The words used to convey this thought are “that in which she had labored hard.” The widow’s gift was motivated out of love for God and needy people. One needs to understand what the giving was for.
(1) It was in support of the Levitical priesthood that stood for God’s provision and care for the people along with His promise to redeem them. (2) The money was to be used for the poor and the needy. She was concerned for others. Think about giving all that she had to help someone else. (3) She gave out of gratitude. She was grateful that she could give. Look again now—how are we giving? Is it out of abundance or are we really making sacrifices to give? How grateful are we for our blessings? (4) It was a gift of faith. She gave what she had so there was trust. She believed that God would provide her needs. (5) She had an undivided heart. She had two mites and she gave both of them and in so doing shows that her heart was undivided. Are we that loyal to God?
Many fine lessons have been taught about the widow’s mites, but how many have you heard taught that used this in its context, which are the scribes and Pharisees. This was the point that was being made. This shows that religion on one side that does not please God that is selfish and it consumed them. Look at the words devour and show. What are these about? Selfishness. What is the end? Damnation.