The Widow’s Might

August 28, 2021

The scene was likely in the court of the women also known as
the court of prayer in Herod’s Temple (Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4). It was
an area with a simple colonnade on three sides. Along the colonnade were
thirteen trumpet shaped chests for placing contributions. Jesus observed the
rich depositing large sums, but it was a poor widow that he commended. She gave
two copper coins (the King James renders as “two mites”). She gave out of her
poverty. She gave all that she had to live on.

The widow’s gift reminds us of the faith of giving. I can
see my checking account balance. I can see my car. I can see my house, my
possessions, and my investments. But to store up treasures in heaven is to put
my trust in the unseen. It is to claim that the unseen is lasting while the
things of this world are temporary. It is to say that God’s cause is more
important than the things I can touch. It is also to trust God to provide for
the future. Will what I give up today be needed tomorrow? Or can I trust God
that if I seek first His kingdom, all these things will be added also?

The widow’s gift reminds us of the sacrifice of giving. The
rich had given larger sums of money, but the widow had made the greater
sacrifice. Jesus says that she gave her whole life. The word, “life,” was also
used for the things sustaining life, so our English versions will say, “all she
had to live on.” But the point of giving her whole life is significant; she
gave herself completely to God. Like the Macedonians who “gave themselves first
to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5, ESV), the widow also gave out of poverty but
with great generosity. The Lord knows how much we have and how much we give.
Generosity is measured by the sacrifice of our giving and not the size of our gift.

The widow’s gift reminds us of the joy of giving.  Although the widow’s joy is not mentioned in the text, I can’t imagine her walking away in sorrow about those two coins — “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). I suspect she thanked God that she had something to give. There is joy in being a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is joy in being a part of God’s work. It gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Scripture teaches that joy and giving go together (2 Cor. 8:2). “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, ESV).

The story of the widow’s mites reminds us of the widow’s
might. She has left a mighty example of the faith, sacrifice, and joy of

—Russ Holden

“Not…to the Right or to the Left.”

August 13, 2021

When God gave Joshua his orders for conquering the Promised Land, He also gave encouragement about scripture:

Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:7-8, NASB emphasis added).

One of the themes within the book of Joshua is Joshua’s faithfulness to do all that was commanded.

The metaphor of not turning to the right or to the left expresses the concern to follow God’s word carefully.  In fact, this phrase, “not … to the right or to the left,” occurs 10 times: Deuteronomy 5:32, 17:11, 17:20, 28:14, Joshua 1:7, 23:6, 2 Kings 22:2, 2 Chronicles 34:2, Proverbs 4:27, and Isaiah 30:21. The passage in Isaiah is likely messianic. It is the Teacher who calls, “This is the way, walk in it,” when the people are turning to the right or to the left.

So, it is not surprising that Jesus, the Messiah, said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it”
(Matthew 7:14, NASB). His graphic word pictures seem to expand on the figure of speech, “not…to the right or to the left,” that we have already seen in the Old Testament. We must seriously listen to God’s will to find the blessings of eternal life.

Two problems seem to confront our culture. One is ignorance of God’s word. Many simply do not know when they have turned to the right or to the left and gone beyond God’s will. The second problem is unbelief. Many do not take God’s word seriously enough to allow it to be a constraint on their behavior even when they know what it says. God’s way appears to them to be too narrow.

Yet despite all of this, we are still faced with two paths–one is narrow, and one is broad. One leads to life. One leads to destruction.

May we not turn to the right or to the left!

                                    –Russ Holden