Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” - Mark 12:41-44
This beloved story is probably familiar to at least a few of us. Jesus watches wealthy folks coming in and out of the temple, ostentatiously making large donations that attract everyone’s attention. He ignores them but singles out an elderly woman dropping a few small coins in the collection plate. This interaction is typical Jesus: he characteristically attends to those on the margins (women and the elderly), and characteristically pays attention not just to her deeds, but the attitude underlying them.
I want to invite you to think about this story in relation not just to money but to another precious resource: time. It seems that every person I meet these days is busy. ‘How are you doing?’, I ask. ‘Good…busy,’ they say, often with a rueful smile. This is true not only of folks we might expect to be busy (parents of young kids, busy professionals with burgeoning careers), but of just about everyone: teenagers. Young singles. Empty nesters. Retired folks. Everybody’s busy!
I’m not sure what it is about our culture that drives us all to be so busy, or to feel so busy. Technology? Social media? Economic pressures? The desire to get ahead, or keep up with the Joneses? We could name all these things and more. What I know is that time has always been precious, but folks in 2022 feel the scarcity of time more keenly than ever.
And that brings us back to this story. Jesus singles out a woman for praise because, although she doesn’t have a lot of money, she uses what she has for God’s purposes. Let’s translate that to time. Many of you don’t have a lot of free time, but you use the time you do have for God’s purposes: to attend church, to pray and read Scripture, to serve. Jesus’ parable reminds us that when we give God out of our scarcity, that means even more than when we give to him out of our abundance. That one hour on Sunday morning for worship, those 15 minutes to read Scripture, those five minutes of quiet prayer right after the alarm goes off: even if nobody else sees those things, Jesus does. Don’t ever be afraid to offer your ‘widow’s mite’ to God, trusting that he sees your faithfulness.
Lord, we are all so darn busy. Please remind us that you care not just about the amount of time we give to you but the spirit in which we do so. Please remind us that the time we share with you when time is scarce, when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, is especially precious in your sight. Give us faith that even a small offering of time is meaningful to you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.