By Kitty Hinkle
“He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
Luke 21:2-3 (NIV)
After going through the first few years of being without Tom, I walked a friend through her murky waters of divorce. It was tough on her on many fronts, but one of the worst moments for her was the legal arbitration over the division of assets. She asked for my help because she felt unable to contain her emotions enough to think logically. She was not only distraught about her marriage ending, but also fearful of facing a future without a husband to depend on financially.
That’s when I turned to her and suggested: “before you go on with your life, get by yourself and pray about how much of this settlement the Lord wants you to give back to Him.”
Fear overtook her. “I’m lucky to even have enough to lean on for a while. I don’t have anything to give to the church.”
She didn’t understand what the giving was about. “This isn’t about money. It’s about what money will do to you.”
That’s when I shared with her the single most critical decision I made when becoming a widow—I gave part of what I was given as a widow back to the Lord.
This isn’t something I have shared with anyone other than this friend who went through the divorce because I know that in Matthew 6:4 the Lord asks us to give in secret. I decided to open up a little about my giving here only because I want you to get the same insight I tried to share with my friend.
No matter how secure or insecure your finances are as a widow or single mom, God is clear on what your attitude towards money should be. You cannot serve both God and money, and if you allow fear over your finances to overtake you, you’re serving the wrong god.
That’s why when I started my new life as a widow, I did so by turning over a significant amount back to my church. It was a great step in opening my heart to further giving—a path that led me to having enough confidence to still eagerly turn over a normal tithe from my social security check to the church and continue to give even further to the needy.
I tell you this as I told my friend: I don’t feel I can afford to give what I give. I really need to watch every dime because I’ve made a financially difficult choice to stay home and homeschool my children rather than work, so my nest egg has to last at least through the raising of these children, with hopefully enough to help with my retirement.
While giving every week is sacrificial, it has an amazing effect on my heart. I’m more empowered and confident about my future and my children’s future by giving than I would have been without doing so to the degree that I do. It’s as though each week, when I write out a check to the church, or each time when I help someone in need, I’m not only helping the church or the needy, I’m making a loud statement to the enemy. I’m saying, “satan, get out of my life.” And I’m saying to money, “you don’t control me, Christ, through my actions, controls you.”
And guess what? It works! Rarely do worries over finances have me up at night—even when something disrupts my finances. Like today, when I replaced the timing belt on my van at the tune of $900 after just paying $500 for a root canal! Those big hits to my budget feel like sucker punches to me, but they are nothing for the Lord. Giving helps me remember not to worry, but trust.
Now before you go thinking that’s just because I’m wired that way, I want you to understand—I’m not. We all worry. It’s part of our sinful nature to worry. It’s a resulting action of our nature which Christ commands us not to do in Matthew 6:25. The peace I have over giving wasn’t there before I took action to start my giving. When I lost Tom, I worried. So much so that when the life insurance company sent me claim forms after Tom’s death, I filled them out with trembling hands and RAN to the post office to have them overnighted to the benefits department. I was terrified at the thought that anything could disrupt any possibility that I’d have to raise these boys without financial help.
I knew in my heart that my fear was unfounded. The boys and I are under the Lord’s care—not the care of money. Continual giving is my way of exercising that part of my heart that has learned to trust Him more and more.
I know that some of us are comfortable and well provided for while others are scraping to get along month by month. If you read my post a few weeks ago about my friend who’s husband has been out of work for years, you know that even with no home of their own and no money to raise four children on, she has chosen to live joyfully and her entire family keeps getting blessed just in the nick of time. And when she gets blessed, guess what she does! She turns around and gives part of what little she receives to someone else in need.
Father God, open the eyes of our hearts in the matters of money. Help us to understand the power in a widow’s mite. No matter how big or how small our material fortune is, help each of us to remember it all belongs to You and that by continually giving part of it back to You each week we reclaim our trust in Your care, and only in Your care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
A couple of points of advice when giving:
1. Give through the church—When you feel led to give significantly to the needy, try to do so through a helping hands ministry in the church, where gifts are documented for your protection.
2. Pray for over a day, then act—Give your prayer enough time to feel that peace in your heart that you are being led to give, but not too much time where your fear of finances will pull you backwards.
3. Pastoral oversight—as widows, we need to make sure we aren’t taken advantage of. If you feel a leading to give, that’s great, but having a trusted pastor or believing friend (not related to the church you give to) follow your giving practices brings accountability to make sure the money is truly going to the Lord’s purposes.
A few application steps and reflections:
In your journal, write about your experiences in giving since being widowed. When have you given, and how did it affect your state of mind when you did? Can you make any conclusions on how the act of giving back to God and to the needy has helped your confidence as a widow?
Deuteronomy 16:17 ”Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”
Proverbs 11:24-25 ”There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
1 Chronicles 29:9 ”Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.”