By Lisa Huddleston
“For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed” (Mark 12:44).
My grandparents lived on a brick alley in a frame house that they rented from before the time of my birth until they each passed away. They raised five children of their own in that house, and they also managed to shelter others who needed a place to welcome them in for a time. I know of three of my mother’s cousins who lived there at some point along with an uncle or two. My grandmother’s sister and her daughter also called this small house home and there were various college students who occasionally rented a room. It was a house filled with love that was available to whoever needed a place to rest. My grandparents gave from the heart—not from an excess of wealth or from a need to find purpose—but from a natural desire to be a helping hand to whomever God sent their way. I’m sure that many people looked at their house and thought they were the ones in need, but they were able to keep giving from what appeared to some to be a place of poverty. Like the widow who fed Elijah, their well didn’t run dry, and God continued to bless others through their willing and giving hearts.
I am often guilty of idealizing my grandparents’ actions and wishing I could mimic their example. But, the times are very different now. With mortgage payments, tuition to several universities, insurance costs, and so on, we just don’t have any extra. We plan and save and worry and dream of the future when the house will be paid for and the kids will graduate. And the days pass by—not exactly wasted but not spent with the abandon or freedom of what could be. And often, I grieve the possibilities.
But God is opening my eyes. In my own church are at least two young families who are living like Nanny and Papaw did. With babies of their own, they have welcomed children, teens and young adults into their families and given without reservation or restraint. I have been shamed by their examples—convicted by their genuine humility, “We’re just doing what is the obvious thing to do.”
And they are right. It is obvious. Religion that isn’t useless involves putting our money (and our lives and our homes and our families) where our mouths are. “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). It’s that simple.
Jesus commended the widow who gave from her poverty all that she had to live on. It wasn’t much by the world’s standards. Many were giving greater gifts, but very few were giving without reservation as she gave—with wild abandon to God and with a faith that trusted Him to meet all her needs.
I want to give like that, and I bet you do, too. Look around. Can you offer a ride, give a shoulder, be a companion, help with a bill, or even provide a home? Of course, we can! After all, it’s just the obvious thing to do.