I GAVE ALL I HAD (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)
I went to the Temple to pay homage to our God. To show my gratitude to our Lord, I put my last two pennies in the offering box. I noticed that a stranger was watching me and then turned to a group of other men. He looked my way and appeared to be talking about me. The group appeared friendly and I drew closer so I could listen to what their leader was saying. From whispers around me, I learned that it was Jesus talking about me. He singled me out as the greatest giver of all the other donors that day. The others had given from their surplus, but that I had given my last meal. It was true. I had given away my food for the day. I felt that the Lord needed it, more than I did. I had reached a point in my life when I had to live from hand to mouth daily. It no longer mattered whether I lived one day longer or died one day sooner. Somehow I kept on living even without the two shekels. I do not even remember how I got the two pennies in the first place. And I was more than surprised that my parting with them would attract Jesus’ attention. I had heard that Jesus was keenly interested in the little people and their contributions to God’s Kingdom. However, I had no idea that my two shekels would be elevated and praised before His followers. I wondered why His followers had to be made aware of my donation? I had heard that they had given up their jobs and homes and even families to follow their Master and Teacher. Apparently, they had not given up their last meal. Indirectly, Jesus held me up as an example to follow. Perhaps, it was just to show them that nothing escaped the Lord’s watchful eye of what His people do with what they have. And most certainly, the Lord had His eyes on me.
But then, Jesus was not comparing me with His own disciples, but with the religious people of my day. For me, religion came first. I gave first to the Lord and if something was left over then it was mine to use. Even if I had to go hungry, the Lord’s needs came first. This attitude was lacking in most of my contemporaries. Most of them gave a lot more and generously, but not from their livelihood. They gave what they no longer needed. Even if they gave the tenth, they no longer needed it to live on. What they gave, it posed no harm or threat to their existence? They satisfied their physical requirements before God got his portion. Their slogan was, “render to self before you render to Caesar and to God.” I rendered all to God and trusted Him to feed me. Long before Jesus talked about how God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, I had learned to depend on Him and trust Him for every meal and the clothes on my back. I was not afraid to give what I had because I was giving back what the Lord had given to me in the first place. Nothing was really mine. It all belonged to the Lord and I had no right to place Him second or behind me in my life. I knew it was not much what I gave, maybe just enough to tip the scale in favor of the Lord. I felt that since my little bit could not fill my stomach, perhaps with the help of others that might give a few shekels someone else could be fed. The Lord had blessed me with a heart that preferred to feed others before I fed myself, even if it meant to give my last meal. And I would like you to know that the Man who called Himself, the Son of the Man, took notice of me.
I felt pleased that God had His eyes on me. I began to inquire about some more things Jesus taught. I liked what Jesus said about people like me. We, the poor, were one reason why God had sent Him. Not a single hair could fall off our heads without Him noticing it. His invisible Presence and Spirit was always near us. We had angels defending us in heaven and guarding us on earth. I, the least, had a chance to be first in Jesus’ new world, He called “Kingdom of Heaven.” In His mind, with my offering, I had put the Kingdom first and myself last. What I was doing, without knowing, pleased Jesus. Jesus promised that there would be a banquet of recognition for people that do things out of sheer need. Even giving a cup of water, in His name, would get us to His final recognition service.