I was reading the passage from Mark about the widow and her pennies the other day, and as sometimes happens, one line struck me differently than it had before.
“All of them contributed out of their surplus, but out of her poverty she has given everything she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).
Out of their surplus.
I’m forever telling my kids that when God gives us more than we need, it’s usually because He wants us to be His generous hands on Earth. Whatever is left over after our basic needs are met isn’t necessarily for our consumption and pleasure: We must always be alert to who needs it more than we do.
I’m also prone to telling my kids that you’re not poor unless you think you have nothing to give. When you lack money you can give comfort, solace, care, kindness, time, prayers–many, many things.
And today as I was thinking about that “out of their surplus” business, it occurred to me that all of us should occasionally stop to assess what we have a surplus of.
- A surplus of suffering may mean we can offer the gift of empathy to others who are beginning a similar struggle.
- A surplus of gratitude may mean we can give back to others less fortunate.
- A surplus of free time may mean we can pray for those no one else is thinking of, or for those who are difficult people, or for those who are on the verge of committing serious sin.
- A surplus of stress may mean we offer God our worries and desire for control.
In truth, most of us aren’t anywhere near the widow’s generosity–and maybe we could even learn a lesson from the prideful scribes.
Are we giving what we can out of our surplus? And if not, how do we change that?