In the story of the widow with her two small coins Jesus shows us that it is not the amount that we give that matters, but rather how much of a sacrifice that amount really is for us. Greg reminded us that the idea of tithing 10% is actually based on the temple tax for the Jews. Rather than having a flat rate that applies to everyone, this story of the widow shows us that the “Calvary principle” applies to our money just as much as it applies to other areas of our lives.
Greg expressed the “Calvary principle” this way: what advances the Kingdom of God is self-sacrificial love and this always looks like Jesus on Calvary giving everything he has for the sake of others. When it came to giving money to the temple as a form of worship, the widow gave all that she had. This left her completely dependent upon God to provide for her. We can know that we are expressing the Calvary principle when our loving self-sacrifices leave us completely dependent upon God!
American Evangelicals give an average of about 2.8% of their income to churches and charities. Greg suggested that this probably means that most of us are not giving sacrificially out of our survival funds, but rather are giving out of our excess/surplus. Rather than set 10% as a sort of law, Greg described how he and his wife use 10% as the minimum standard for themselves and strive to give as sacrificially as they can above that. But he was quick to remind us that it’s not about the percentage, but rather the amount of sacrifice involved. For those living in poverty, $5 may really hurt in terms of feeding themselves and their families. While for others who are well-off $5,000 or $50,000 or more could be given away without impacting their lifestyle.
The rule of thumb is not a percentage, rather it is how much would you have to give before it affects the way you live. In fact, how much would you have to give to make you truly dependent upon God?
As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."