Nothing to Give

Nothing to Give
Photo by Maria Bolgiani / Unsplash

While serving the poor in Calcutta, Mother Teresa received a plain package on the convent's doorstep. Upon opening it a few hours later, she was shocked to find it contained twenty thousand rupees.

No note. No return address. Just a large anonymous donation.

Her response was surprising.

She didn't want the money.

"Have you ever experienced the joy of giving?" she asks. "I do not want you to give to me from your abundance. I never allow people to have fund-raisers for me. I don’t want that. I want you to give of yourself. The love you put into the giving is the most important thing." - No Greater Love

In other words, don't give what you easily get rid of. Give what costs you. Give of yourself.

It reminds me of the widow in the New Testament who put two copper coins in the temple offering box.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. - Mark 12:41-42

Jesus is so impressed with the woman that he praises her in front of his disciples and admonishes the wealthy men.

I always thought the moral of the story was that the rich men should've offered the same proportion of money as the widow. She had two copper coins, so she gave two copper coins. If they had a thousand copper coins, they should've given a thousand copper coins.

But it's possible this is about more than money because there are many ways we can be impoverished.

How abundantly do I give to God from the areas I feel I'm lacking most?

How much time do I surrender when I'm short on time? How much attention do I give when a million things are on my mind? How much respect do I give when I feel none in return? How much am I willing to lend the small talents I do have when I'm feeling untalented?

Where were the rich men truly impoverished? I think the answer lies in what would be hardest for them to offer.

It would cost them to offer their spotless reputation by associating with an outsider. It would cost them to offer their time to listen to the people no one takes the time to listen to. It would cost them to offer their ego by admitting they're not nearly as wise as they want people to think they are.

Money was a commodity to them. It's everything else that propped up their life.

Mother Teresa and Jesus were more concerned about the heart of the person doing the giving than the funding of their operations.

I don't want more of your money. I want more of your heart. And nothing softens a hard heart like sacrifice.

“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." -Mark 12:43b-44