Learning from the Widow in Luke 21

We were in Indy last week visiting family, and we heard a really insightful short talk on a Wednesday night. The brother reminded us of a familiar passage in Luke 21 about the poor widow who gave her last two coins to God.  What the brother then said was to take out the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible and read the end of Luke 20 and then read about the widow in Luke 21. So I put the text here for you to read.

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 20:45-21:4)

The question was posed – I wonder how this widow ended up with only two coins? One really good explanation for the state of her poverty was that the Jewish leadership had “devoured” it. Instead of supporting the widows, they took advantage of them in their time of distress. Again, if you read the text straight through it sure sounds like that is the explanation for this widow’s condition. It also may explain how the “rich” in that context had so much excess of money to put into the treasury.

This concept of devouring widow’s houses is not just in Luke. Here are some other passages that address this social injustice (Isaiah 10:2; Jeremiah 7:6-10; Ezekiel 22:7; Amos 8:4-6; Micah 2:2,8; 3:1-3; Mark 12:40; 2 Timothy 3:6). These hypocritical, narcissistic Jewish leaders were even doing this garbage to their own parents (Mark 7; Matthew 15). When we take time to read passages like the ones in this paragraph, we can see how strongly God feels about it.

But that is not really the point of this article, nor was it the point of the brother who was giving that short talk. When you consider the state of things, the injustice that was going on, and the poverty of this woman, are you not impressed with her heart for God? Even in the midst of great poverty, knowing these two coins were “all” she had to live on, she still gave it all to God. Her heart was not filled with bitterness and rage against those who oppressed her, nor was she angry about her state in life. She loved God and was happy to give Him her all.

What a woman!

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – A Blessed Man

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.  2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2 NKJV)

The psalm of David begins with the word “blessed” and that is the focus of our thoughts for the day.

First, this word should always awaken our attention because something important about our lives is being communicated to us.  That is certainly the case here!

What does the word “blessed” mean?  Some would translate and use the word “happy” but the word blessed has a richer meaning and has greater depth to it than simply happiness.  Being blessed is not about feeling happy. To be blessed speaks to having a fullness and completeness in this life.  Being blessed means by doing the prescribed actions, one will have an inner joy, peace, and happiness that goes beyond mere feelings and is greater than our physical circumstances.  Simply stated, “Blessed is a state of being”.

Living blessed is to live free in this life and the next. God is not a God of limits.  He is a God of freedom.  Sin is limiting but through our faith in his mercy in Christ Jesus we trust Him to free us from sin.

This idea was evident in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-11) when Jesus preached that we are blessed when others insult us and persecute us.  Obviously, insults and persecution do not bring immediate happiness.  Happy would not be the right word here.  Blessed, however, refers to the inner knowledge and joy of knowing we are suffering for the sake of the Lord (1 Pet 4:12-19), though we may not be happy while we endure the pain.  This is a position of strength not a position of weakness or living as a victim to other’s wrong toward us and/or chained to consequences of bad decisions we or others make.  It is a more than conqueror attitude…at it is powerful.

So the question for the day is do you want to be a “better” man or a “blessed” man.  This might seem like a crazy question.  It might seem that they are the same thing or somehow closely related.  Well, being a better man is certainly a good thing and can be tied to being a blessed man.  But the two words are different in this point…if I say I want to be a better man I imply somehow I can make that happen on my own…at least that is how I see it.  If I say I want to be a blessed man, however, I recognized and proclaim the only way I can be anything is with my Heavenly Father and through my Savior Jesus Christ.  That is the only way I can truly be the man those most important to me need to be.

David and Paul (Romans 4) both present the argument that being “blessed” is through our faith in God to forgive us and free us from the power of sin.  We are then free to love others the way God loves them and in the way they need the most.  Blessed is a state of being and position of strength built upon our Rock…Jesus Christ.

Even the world recognizes the importance of a “blessed man” even they don’t know that is what they are describing or looking for.  When asked what a “good man” is…a woman responded:  A good man is not a nice man – he does not do things to be nice, he does things because he has a moral code, a set of values he prioritizes and will always do his best to make sure that his actions are in line with his own personal standards. A good man will not do the easy thing or the convenient thing, or even the thing that he wants to do; he will do what he knows to be the good thing.”

I believe the women in our lives are desperately looking for a “blessed” man…even when they don’t say that to us or make us feel that way.  They are looking for a blessed man.  They need a blessed man.  Be a blessed man.  Recognize the sin in your life…that against God and God alone you have sinned…and go to Him and make that right.  Be a blessed man and people will see it.  Be a blessed man and others will be blessed.