One of the things I love so much about the ushering in of Christmas is the many awesome sights. For instance, small pine trees for sale in open lots, with the memories of bringing one home with my dad; colorful flashing lights, with memories of colored sparkles on sugar cookies; snow, with childhood memories of sledding; and radio stations playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day, along with listening to my wife sing songs in the car to those which I didn’t think anybody knew the words to.
One of my all-time favorite songs, one that’s guaranteed to bring at least one tear each time I hear it, is “The Little Drummer Boy”. It’s a song about a little boy who traveled with the shepherds to see the baby Jesus. Everybody laid down gifts to give to the infant Savior, but then, this little boy, standing there with nothing but a drum and some sticks, realizes that he has nothing to give, or nothing “that’s fit to give a king”, anyway. But then he realizes and says, “I will play for Him!” It’s all he has to give, and he gives Jesus his all – and he plays his best for Him!
Luke 21:1-4 tells a similar story, of a poor woman who gave all the money she had to the Church. You may have heard this story in a sermon about tithing. At first glance, I could see this, too. But at a second glance, I wonder if, maybe, just maybe, instead of looking so much at the fact that she gave all the money she had to the Temple, or at using the poor woman as an example of tithing more money to the Church, maybe this story is not about money at all.
The event takes place in the Temple, where Jesus was teaching the people: “He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; now, tithing back then wasn’t like it is today, where somebody passes around a basket or something. No, in those days, there was a huge pot of some sort with a small hole, where they would place their coins. In the beginning chapters of Matthew, Jesus complains about the Pharisees and those who want to make their sacrifices and deeds known. Well this was part of that, for the rich, instead of placing in a huge coin, they would exchange their money for the smallest denominator of the money (say you were tithing $100, this would be $100 in pennies), so that everybody could hear the money drop into the metal container, and they would receive praise for being so “generous”.
But Jesus also saw a poor widow put in two small, copper coins. So He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, has put in all the livelihood that she had.’”
Notice, she didn’t give all that money of hers with hopes to get more back (as is the message of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel). She also didn’t do it in order to receive praise from others (although she received praise from Jesus personally). No, she trusted God, giving Him everything she had to live on, even though it wasn’t much.
I looked up the word that’s used to mean ‘livelihood’. In the Greek, it also means “possessions” or “property”. So she gave all she owned, all she had to live on…any money that would buy her and her child food, clothing, etc., she gave it all up to the Lord. And Jesus praised her by pointing out the fact that, as those who had much gave only a portion, she had nothing, but literally gave everything.
Each Sunday that we make it to church, we’re given the opportunity to bless God with our presence and tithes. Each day we’re blessed with waking up with a breath, having a job (if you have one) and to work as if our boss is God, and we’re working for Him; and each morning that we wake up, we have the opportunity to ask the Lord how we may serve Him more.
The Lord has given up everything for us. There’s nothing we could say or do to repay Him for His awesome gift of salvation. So we stand before Jesus with nothing to give, nothing that’s fit to give a king, that is. So we’re all in the same position as the poor widow and the little drummer boy…and each day and at this very moment, you’re asked the question, “how much of yourself will you give?” …pa-rum-pa-pa-pum.