You've likely heard the phrase, "where you treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt 6:21). What do you treasure in your heart? Do you treasure material goods, as a way to show off, or do you treasure spiritual good, like peace and calmness? The things we treasure in our heart will also show up in what we do for a living, how we live our lives, and even the physical symptoms we experience.
To get into what we treasure, let's use a story...
Christ and his disciples were sitting by the treasury. This was a place in the outer court of the temple where there were boxes where people put money. The offerings were made voluntarily by the Jews for the service of the temple and support of the poor.
Christ noticed two types of people who came to put in money. Rich men, and a poor widow. The rich men put in what seemed like a lot of money, and the poor widow put in what is the equivalent of just less than one-half of a penny.
Yet Jesus chastised the rich men, because they put in of their surplus. He praised the woman, who put in of her want. She gave all that she had. (Mark 12:41-44, or Luke 21:1-4)
There are so many things to learn from this short story of "the widow's mite."
What do you treasure in your heart?
When we think of a treasury, we generally think of a place where money is collected, kept, and dispersed. This is what the treasury at the temple was.
But let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning of the word. It actually refers to a treasure house, or a place to hold treasures.
In Jesus’ time, these treasures included the living quarters of the priests who served in the temple, and the items used for temple worship.
Surely these priests and these items were a spiritual treasure to the people.
So while the word today refers to money, the meaning is deeper. It’s about what is treasured.
The rich men were giving things they didn’t treasure. They were giving of their excess.
In contrast, the poor widow was giving all she had. Her whole life!
It might also help to understand a bit about the condition of widow’s in Jesus’ time. Widows were the most vulnerable members of the community. Their lives were at the whim of the rest of the community even more than the lives of children.
When a woman’s husband died, her son(s) were responsible for taking care of her. If she had no sons, her husband’s family was next.
Often, widows had no support and no family to care for them.
So we have a woman who likely has no support, and is obviously extremely poor. She doesn’t even have enough money to feed herself.
And yet, she gives everything.
Why? Why would she give everything to the treasury?
We can only speculate, since the story ends there. Perhaps by asking this question of ourselves, we can get to an answer.
Remember that the treasury is about what we treasure.
What do you treasure? Where is your heart?
The rich men’s hearts were set on their material goods. They gave what was left over. The poor widow’s heart was set on God. She gave “all her living.”
Mark also reads that she “gave of her want.”
The rich men were essentially saying, “We’re good! We’ve got this. We can provide for ourselves.” In contrast, the poor widow was saying, “I have nothing of myself. I can’t even feed myself. I give everything to you, that you might feed me.”
She was lacking more money compared to the wealthy men. Yet from her position of lack, she gave all she had.
The law of sowing and reaping
This is probably the law that we see the most in the scriptures. “As ye sow, so shall you reap.”
What you put in, is what you get out. Plant corn, and you get corn. Plant beans, and you get beans. Send out anger, and you get anger in return. Send out love and goodness, and you get love and goodness in return.
The rich men planted meagerly. The poor widow planted abundantly!
Let’s use an example of donating jackets. If you have 6 jackets and give 2 of them away, how much have you really given? You still have 4 jackets for yourself.
If your friend has only one jacket, however, and gives it away, how much has he given? All that he has.
The world would have us believe that the amount of ‘stuff’ we have is important. That our bank account numbers matter. Is that what we treasure in our hearts?
Christ teaches us to put up our treasures in heaven, where they cannot be corrupted. Do we seek after material wealth and comfort at the expense of our spiritual wealth and comfort?
This poor widow must have understood Jesus’ teachings to give all to him, and that he will provide for us and for our needs. She had faith and trust. Do we?
What's your motivation?
I've written about finding the purpose God has for you. The story of the widow’s mite is an opportunity to think about this again.
Think about the work you currently do. You might have a job, a volunteer position, and/or be a stay-at-home mom. Are you doing any of those things to fulfill a need to be seen as wealthy, or to be noticed in some way, like the rich men did? Or do you do what you do as a way to serve God?
Everything we do on a daily basis can be an offering to God. Even washing the dishes and doing the laundry can be done as a form of service and as a spiritual practice.
When we do our work, when we live our lives thinking of God, we are sowing abundantly. We then reap abundantly! As we treasure in our hearts the things of God, we reap those things in many forms.
Physical symptoms of lack
When we give as the rich men at the treasury, we’re giving from a place of lack and fear. We’re holding on to things out of fear that more won’t come our way.
All of our beliefs eventually manifest in our physical body in some way.
Here are some possible symptoms you could have if you’re coming strongly from a place of lack:
1) Anything that denotes “too little” or “not enough”
For example, your breathing might be shallow. You could feel anxious. You might be underweight, have low blood pressure, or osteopenia/osteoporosis.
2) Anything that indicates the need to “hold on” and not let go
This list includes constipation, stiffness in the body, holding the breath, or trying to force things. Striving to be in control and to control others and all situations is also a symptom of trying to “hold on.”
Physical symptoms of abundance
When we give like the poor widow, we’re giving from a place of abundance, trust, and faith. We freely let things come and go, knowing that we are blessed and will be blessed.
We have the faith that those blessings may or may not show up as physical things, but we will feel the blessings in our heart.
Here are some symptoms of coming strongly from a place of abundance:
1) Ease, peace, flow, trust, letting go easily, and an ease with receiving.
2) Physically, your health would be good. You might get symptoms of dis-ease, but they are temporary and don’t cause you undue stress.
3) Life is fluid and smooth. Your heart rate is low, breathing is deep and easy, and your body is limber. You sleep well, laugh easily, and don’t get angry at daily trifles.
Our life here will always be one of uncertainty. There will always be times of plenty and time of lack, and times of peace and times of unrest.
Yet if we follow the example of the poor widow, we can experience more and more peace and plenty in our hearts. No matter the circumstances and the winds blowing around us, when we are centered on Christ, we are provided for.
What do you treasure in your heart?
- Do you give from a place of abundance, or from a place of lack? Trust that God provides for you, and that when you give, more will come.
- If you want abundance, you have to plant abundantly!
- Seek after spiritual treasures first....the material will follow.
Where do you see lack and abundance in your life?