Understanding the Bible Story of the Widow's Mite
Is the intention and thought behind a gift more important than the gift itself? I examine this question by using a Bible story. This article is not of a religious nature, however the story is being used here to illustrate a point.
The Widow's Mite
The Christian story of the Widow’s Mite, has been a part of my personal consciousness since I can remember. It, along with other more obscure tales from various belief systems, are what have lead me to the understanding that, all gifts are equal if given with a pure heart. As such this article is not intended to be a forum for debate about the theological meaning of the tale of The Widow’s Mite. I have used it because this tale is simply the most known, of the works that have lead me to this belief, and how we all should act, on a mental level, in regards to the gifts that others choose to give. Therefore, when commenting about this article please stick to the main focus of the article, and leave debates, about the theological meaning of the tale of The Widow’s Mite, for other places, where that is actually being debated.
The actual story, of The Widow’s Mite, is in The New Testament, in Mark 12:38-44 and Luke 20:45-47,21:1-4. In the tale of the Widow’s Mite, wealthy people donate large sums of money but Jesus makes his disciples take note of a woman who only gave a two mites, a small amount of money, similar to the value of a penny is today. He tells his followers that her gift is so great because it was all of the money the lady had. He says that her donation was better than the larger donations made by the wealthy people.
How the Story is Used
The story has been used to tell people they should live in poverty, said to be a condemnation of Pharisees, Jewish Priests, and also claimed by some to be way of condoning Anti-Semitism. Still other unscrupulous people have used this story to get people to donate more than they could afford, to a church or charity.
I am not going to lay that trip on you and tell you to give up everything to help out other people or organizations. I could just throw the whole story out as being offensive to me if I take it at face value. A poor women, giving her last two mites, to a temple full of wealthy priests, is not something I generally view as a good thing.
The Message I Get
I get a different message from this story. The message I get is that this person gave with a pure heart. In the story, others around her were giving large sums of money, at least that is implied. It is also implied that maybe those who gave the larger sums really did not want to give what they were giving. The Widow, however actually wanted to give. Her gift was given with a pure heart. With an intention of really wanting to give. It seemed as if Jesus’ disciples were ready to make a negative judgment on her gift, however he stopped them and let them know the whole story, explaining to them the pure intention in her heart.
Think About It
At this point I will go beyond the teachings of most religions in regards to what I feel merits a gift being given with a pure heart. To me a gift given with a pure heart is one that a person actually wants to give. Not a gift given to “lay up treasures in heaven”, or “get good karma”. In my opinion, all of those reasons are self serving. I often wonder why religions lay that trip on people.
Maybe the sages of centuries past did not realize how pathetically selfish those reasons sounded, when they suggested them to their followers, or maybe it was just a way to get folks to give up their wealth to those same sages. As such, I am not suggesting that you examine your own reasons, for giving gifts of any kind, in order to see if your intention is pure. That would be futile and leave you never giving with a pure heart. You can not give with a pure heart, if you have conscious thought about your reason for giving a gift. If you give with a pure heart, you just give the gift and do not think about the reason you are giving it.
In writing this article, I am not actually concerned with your personal reasons for giving the gifts you give, or if you give any gifts. That is your business, not mine or that of anyone else. What I am concerned with, is something that does affect everyone, that is the way in which people view the gifts that other people give. Many people are either blown away by a large gift, or disgusted at a small gift. Some make judgments on the gifts other give without knowing the full story, or the intention in the heart of the giver. The negative energy that is created by this mind set is almost pathogenic to our collective unconsciousness.
The very act of passing judgment on the gifts another chooses to give actually causes an energy that is toxic, and when those thoughts are put into words they create even more negative energy. This way of thinking has to go. What I am trying to do, in my own mind and life, is to not be concerned with what others do in regards to gift giving. At times, I may fail at this, yet I believe that if we all stop making judgments about the size of the gifts, people give in earnest, the world will be a much better place. There are so many other problems in the world that adding to them, by getting bent out of shape at the size of a gift someone else gives another person, or organization, or even if they give a gift at all, is ridiculous.
Ultimately, if gifts are truly given with a pure heart, no one but the giver, and possibly the receiver, would know who gave them. The negative energy that is generated, by all of those who piss and moan, about the size of gifts other people give, or if others give at all, is such a dangerous thing that needs to stop.
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Article (by me) Originally Published at Socyberty.
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