Imagine if you will that you are sitting in a pew at the front of your church and watching the parishioners as they put their tithes in the offertory plate. You see a well-dressed man drop three hundred-dollar bills into the plate. Right behind comes a woman, not so well-dressed, she puts a fifty-dollar bill into the plate. Who gave more to the church?
A) The well-dressed man.
B) The poorly-dressed woman.
C) I don’t know.
The answer to this question depends on the lens you are using to read it. Perhaps you looked at the total amount the man gave and the total amount the woman gave and you say well it’s obvious the answer is A because the man gave more money to the church than the woman. Or, perhaps you are familiar with the story I am alluding to in Scripture about the poor widow and you are focused on the words “who gave more” and assume that this poorly-dressed woman gave more because she was poor and this was a lot for her to give. Before I provide the answer to this question I want to reproduce for you below the story of the poor widow.
“While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.’ “Luke 21:1-3
Does this passage of scripture have any effect on your answer? It should, because it tells us something about ourselves and about Jesus. I will first say that if Jesus had asked this question to me then my answer would have been A because obviously the man gave more total money than the woman. But the answer is not A.
Now what about B? Well if I told you that the poorly-dressed woman was poor and this was all she had then the answer would be B but I didn’t and so the answer is actually C. Why?
If you’re wondering why then please read the scripture again and my hypothetical and tell me what assumptions you have made in the latter that don’t apply to the former.
The key is that in the former case we are seeing things through the eyes of Jesus Christ. Jesus knows the woman is poor and that she gave away everything she had. If we look at my hypothetical we see a poorly dressed woman but we can only assume she is poor and (if you answered B) that she gives away all or a significant portion of what she had because we perhaps are pre-conditioned by the story in Scripture and our own assumptions.
So what is the purpose of this hypothetical? To demonstrate that our perceptions are flawed by biases and also that they are just plain incomplete. Why does Jesus say specifically “I tell you the truth”? If you read what was just previous to this statement you probably assumed the rich man gave more. Jesus is saying you don’t see the whole picture but I, as God, do and so I as God know the truth and the correct answer. I know who gave me everything and who gave me only out of their own abundance.
This is why we cannot judge others’ use of their talents or resources because we oftentimes simply don’t know the truth. This is also why we should be careful who we esteem in this life because we don’t know who is giving only a fraction of their talents or resources to God and who is giving everything they have. Finally, this is why we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others if we feel we are lacking ether in talent or resources. God will judge you for using what you have been given not what you haven’t.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright @1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Credit image: https://pixabay.com/en/coins-pennies-dollars-money-912278/.