Today’s Reading: Luke 21:1-28
“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.” (21:2) The word translated “very small copper coin” (NIV) or “mite” (KJV) is Greek leptos, “small, thin, light” which refers to a small copper coin, 1/128 of a denarius, something between a penny and a mill. If you’re confused by the Roman system of coins, here is a comparison chart.
|lepton (Jewish)||quadrans||as (Gk. assarion)||sestertius||denarius|
|Value||2 lepta = 1 quadrans||4 quadrans = 1 as||4 as = 1 sestertius||4 sesteria = 1 denarius||1 denarius = 1 day’s labor in Jesus’ day|
Considering that a denarius is the common pay for a day’s work in Jesus’ era, a letpon is just a tiny, tiny portion. If a labourer can earn US $100 to $200 in our day, then 1/128 of that would be 75cent to $1.50.
She gave a very small offering, perhaps, but I’ve known many, many people — much better off than the widow — who put in $1 when the plate is passed and feel good about themselves. But for the widow, this $1.50 is all she has.
This $1.50 represents buying her next meal. She is destitute, probably living off the charity of her neighbours. She has just a tiny bit in her possession, but she wants to give it. No matter that she won’t have food for the evening meal. She wants to give it.
“She gave more than all of those rich people put together,” Jesus tells them, and they look at him in astonishment. $1.50 vs. thousands of dollars? They don’t say it, but they must think that Jesus is seriously mistaken.
Yet Jesus is teaching us that how much we give is related to how much we have. Earlier, Jesus had taught his disciples, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
How about you? Have you given God your all, whether large or small? If you have, then you know the racing heart of trusting God for the next step, the next meal, the next project. And you know the reward of loving God with a joy and purity that reward you with his glorious presence.