IN Biblical times there was a widow who cast into the temple treasury two small coins-all she had. This contrasted with the large offerings of the Pharisees. Jesus said the widow had cast in more than all of them.
The prevalent misconception is that the more wealth you have, the richer you are. Jesus' comment about the widow was not meant to glorify poverty, but to draw attention to what is truly substantial. He himself never owned stocks or property. But what king could accomplish his feeding of a multitude in the desert? What millionaire could find money for taxes, as he did, in the mouth of a fish.
In the human economy the one who has more wealth can sometimes do more good. But in God's economy, it's the thought that counts. The thought that matter is the only substance gives rise to crime, labor disparities, and the domination of one individual over another. Our priority should be first to understand God. ''Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,'' says one proverb, ''and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold'' (Proverbs 3:13-16).
Right at the moment when one views oneself as a deprived mortal, he or she is actually the unlimited heir of God's largess. God's reflection is forever perfect. And we all reflect God. When we hesitate to give what we can to better humanity, perhaps feeling we don't have enough wealth or stature, let us remember the lesson of the widow's mites; true giving is not tied to an amount of matter, but to the expression of divine Love. In God's economy there are no have-nots. Want is not fact or virtue in the infinitude of God. And the book of First Timothy cautions whoever would trust matter as substance, ''Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate'' (6:17, 18).
Some time ago I felt a strong desire to give more to my church. But I had limited resources. Then it occurred to me that I had the talent to write! There and then I started writing for some of the publications my church produces. I had a few articles published. If I had despised my ''widow's mite'' of writing, I would never have started-never contributed. Now I cannot stop. Whatever you can give, if given unselfishly, is never meager. God gives all, all the time, to all His children, and because of this we each can give in a way that is not limited.
If we judge by human standards, the widow was poor. But from God's perspective she could lack nothing; this was shown in her courage to give all she did have. Christ Jesus saw beyond appearances and discerned her true, spiritual status. As the Father of all, God cannot withhold from one and give to another; He gives to all equally, just as the sun shines on all who stand in its light and warmth. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote this about spiritual ideas in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''These ideas are perfectly real and tangible to spiritual consciousness, and they have this advantage over the objects and thoughts of material sense,-they are good and eternal'' (p. 269). Truly, it is not matter per se that meets our needs, but the spiritual qualities that we possess. With the expression of these good qualities, which are mental, one can amass a ''fortune.'' Jesus never lacked anything, because he understood what spiritual substance was. We will never lack either, if we value spiritual ideas above all else.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
that the man of God may be
perfect, throughly furnished
unto all good works.
Second Timothy 3:16, 17