Less Is More!
What is our attitude to giving?
by Helen Levesley (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider our attitudes to giving to the poor.
Preparation and materials
You will need two actors and a collection plate or money box for the offerings. Actor 1 should be wearing expensive clothes and carrying bags of money; Actor 2 should be wearing shabby clothes and holding two 1p coins.
Optional: you may wish to have available the song ‘Money, money, money’ by Abba and the means to play it during the assembly.
One day, Jesus came to the temple and sat down opposite the place where the offerings were made. He watched the crowd putting their offerings into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts of money.
(Actor 1 enters, finely dressed, with bags of money, which he adds to the offerings.)
A little later, a poor widow came along to the collection box and put in two coins, which were worth hardly anything.
(Actor 2 enters, dressed in shabby clothes. She stands and searches her clothes for money, and eventually finds her two pennies, which she holds up and adds to the offerings. Actor 1 looks on with disgust.)
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’
How did the woman think she would buy dinner that night? She trusted in God to provide for her. She obeyed God’s command, knowing that God would fulfil his promise to care for her in return. She gave the greatest amount that she could afford, which was everything she had, but almost nothing by comparison; the rich man probably had much more money at home than he gave at the temple.
This seems very contradictory to us: the smallest gift gets the biggest reward. In these times of materialism and wealth, how can this be possible? Unfortunately, people are often viewed by their possessions rather than other, more important qualities.
However, when there is a ‘credit crunch’, and less money is available, people often find that many things are not really needed to make their lives happy. The consuming need for money and possessions gets turned on its head.
The story of the widow’s contribution is more relevant than ever. Those who have very little are often those who give the most. Curiously, charities see a rise in giving during a recession. It is almost as if we understand, suddenly, what it is to struggle, and we have empathy for others, which makes us more generous as a result.
When Jesus singles out the widow for praise, he is saying that those who truly give also give a little bit of themselves. The widow, however poor she was, did something for someone else, and received more than just praise. She knew that what she had done was good. She was therefore richer than anyone else, because she was rich in herself and in her soul. That, according to Jesus, is the true measure of wealth. Do you agree?
Time for reflection
Please help us to be generous with our possessions and to look for ways in which we can give to other people.
Help us to understand that possessions and material wealth are things that will come to an end, but true happiness comes from the smallest of actions.
‘Money, money, money’ by Abba