“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
The title of today’s message is, “Put In.” The key verse is verse 3. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
Her act of putting in brought this poor widow praise from Jesus. And what she put in turned out to be worth more than all the others. This wasn’t like an A for effort kind of praise. To Jesus, she really did put in more than all the others.
I’d like to focus on three things in this message:
1. God’s grace to give
2. Giving that is pleasing to God
Overcoming limitations by giving
First, God’s grace to give.
Look at verse 1.
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
Surely, they gave a lot. They were rich. Their gifts must have looked so nice. When the rich give gifts, it looks like such a great grace. And we see these rich people being honored for their gracious gifts. For example, think about the names of the buildings on your campuses. There is the La Kretz hall at Cal State LA. Like this building, many are named in honor of rich people who donated “gifts” to the school. Every time you walk by that building, you will see the name La Kretz, for it is placed in plain view. You will be reminded of the generous gift of the La Kretz family.
Sometimes I think about it and find it amazing how they could give such gifts. Think about it. You have to give quite a bit to have your name displayed on the side of the building. I was also surprised by one of our guests after the international conference. He shared that he wanted to make a $10,000 offering to North Korean mission. So he fasted and saved his money and somehow he collected $10,000. I thought, what kind of food had he been eating? Then he surprised me again and said that in the end another person also donated and together they had a total of $20,000.
We might think that if we are rich, then we would give much too. Sometimes we say to ourselves, I can’t give now, but when I get more money, then I’ll give.
Look at verse 2. Jesus also saw another person putting in a gift.
He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
The author, Luke, describes her poverty well. She is described as a “poor widow.” She was doubly poor and needy. She's not only poor, but a widow. This poor widow exemplifies being weak and needy. No money. No family. She had all the disadvantages lined up against her.
And yet Jesus saw her putting in something into the temple treasury. She wasn’t there to ask for donations. She wasn’t there to complain about being poor or a widow. She was there to put in something she had to the treasury. It may have looked strange. What’s two copper coins? It’s nothing. She might as well just keep it.
We can understand a rich person putting in a gift, but how about a poor person? We can see why Jesus called her actions to the attention of his disciples. He wanted them to learn to give from this poor widow.
Look again at how what she put in is described. “Two very small copper coins.” Even what she put in was described as so poor, just “two very small copper coins.” They weren’t just small, they were “very” small.
Conventional wisdom says that what she did was foolish–she gave all she had to live on. How then would she live? I have heard multiple times some people say, “It is good to give to God. But you should be smart (or wise) about it.” What does it mean to be “smart” about giving to God? It means to only give reasonably within your means. You look at your need first and then give to God appropriately. But this poor widow did the opposite. She looked to God first, and then gave appropriately though it was all she had. She showed what is the truly “smart” or “wise” way to give to God. She was not intimidated by her needs. She was not intimidated by seeing the gifts of the rich and comparing what she had to them.
It was not a question of how she’ll live. We know how she lives for she showed it. She trusted in God to provide for her. It reminds us of Psalm 37:25.
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Jesus didn’t want his disciples to give out of their wealth. They ought to look to God first and then give what is worthy of him and what is due to him. This poor widow found God as worthy of her two very small copper coins, above her own needs. She willingly and freely gave all she had to God.
When she looked at her coins, she didn't think, "Ah man, this is nothing!" She could have just given 1 coin. It would have been a 50% offering. More than 5 times the tithe (tenth). She looked and saw she had two coins. Not just one, but two! Praise the Lord. It was two coins she could give to the Lord.
When we’re really in need and poor, we might have many frustrations, questions, doubts, fears, anxieties--not gifts or offerings. And when we think like that all kinds of negative things, such as complaining and giving up, come out from us. We feel discouraged that we don’t have as much as others. We feel cheated or wronged. We complain. We don’t do anything for God. That’s what we end up putting in. Then we want God or others to give something to us.
Because of this kind of fear, I have held back from giving to God what I have. I didn’t give money. I didn’t give time. I didn’t give my service or heart to him. Sometimes when in meetings to plan conferences, the issue of a certain task will come up, such as a message or a play, a drama. And then someone will say, “Who should we recommend for the task?” Immediately, I thought about all the work and time and sacrifice necessary to complete that task in the right and good way. I was afraid to be tired and burdened. My heart started racing, I started sweating a little, dreading that my name would be thrown out there. Sometimes it was and I would quickly decline and make up an excuse. But at the last Spring Conference William recommended I be a messenger and I didn’t decline. I was very happy and blessed to serve as a messenger at that time. I felt very rich afterwards.
So this poor widow showed that she had another kind of wealth that enabled her to give so freely to God. This tells us that it is God’s grace that one can give out of their poverty.
When we think about God’s grace, we think about what he has given us. So then when we think we don’t have much to give, we think God’s not so gracious right now. But it is also God’s grace for us to give, even out of poverty.
There are good examples and bad examples of this in the Bible.
Let’s start with the bad example first.
A rich young ruler once came to Jesus. He came to Jesus with a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:21-22 say,
 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
He was not willing to give his wealth. We think that if we would hold onto our wealth which is what we are afraid of losing, we would be happy. But what does it say about him? He went away sad. We think we’ll be sad if we have to give away what we have, even if it's very little. But the opposite is true.
Now, let’s think about some good examples.
Abraham is a good example. He had one and only one son whom he loved. In a worldly sense, it was all he had to live on. But when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, he did it. He gave his son to God. He experienced God's resurrection power. And God gave him Isaac back. The word of God was in his heart.
Another good example are the Macedonians. They were extremely poor.
Let’s read 2 Corinthians 8:1-12.
 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,  they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.  So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.  But just as you excel in everything---in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us---see that you also excel in this grace of giving.  I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.  And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.  Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.  For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
They also discovered God’s grace to them, the grace of giving. They didn’t see what they didn’t have, but saw what they did have and gave it to God.
We don't see what we don't have. We shouldn't feel bad that what we have is very small. Our small offering may be more valuable than all the others.
What we do have is God's grace. What we give is also God’s grace.
You may ask, is it really God's grace that I give out of my poverty? Yes, exactly! Jesus became poor to make us rich! You are so rich because of Jesus even if your bank says otherwise. You have eternal life as a child of God.
Furthermore, when we give as he has given to us, we can participate in God’s salvation work for others. We can know God better and experience his grace deeper. We will become a blessing to others.
We heard a good testimony as an example of good giving. Nico Doru from Bucharest, Romania. His parents saved up a lot of money for him to buy a car. It was all he had to buy a car. But he used that money instead to buy a plane ticket to attend the international conference in Pennsylvania. He was happy to give this money to God. He believed that if he went to this conference to hear the word of God that God would change his life. He wanted to learn of God and have a new life. And we heard from him after the conference. He was glowing. He was so satisfied with his decision. God made him rich through giving all he had.
Second, such giving is pleasing to God.
Look at verses 3-4.
“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus verbally expressed how pleased he was with her offering and how great her offering was. It is a shocking judgment. She put in more than all the others. How could two very small copper coins be worth more than all the others? Yet, it was the truth Jesus was speaking.
Do you think God speaks like this when we are rich? Can you hear his voice say, “You made a million dollars. I am so pleased with you.” No, we do not. It would be our own voice saying, “You made a million dollars. I am so pleased with you.”
Jesus knew very well her condition. He knew she was a poor widow. He knew how much she put in, and he knew that she had given out of her poverty all she had to live on. And yet he didn’t stop her from putting in her two very small copper coins. He watched as she put it in. And he was very pleased.
This tells us then how Jesus measured what she put in compared to all the others. They gave some of what they had. She put in all she had. It was acceptable and commendable to God. Jesus was so pleased. He pointed out her actions to be an example to learn from for his disciples. She doesn’t give her name on a building. We don’t even know her name. But she alone has this story credited to her and written in the gospels of Luke and Mark. Buildings wear out and get torn down. But the word of God stands forever.
Jesus was so pleased he compared it to what others offered. He said that she "put in more than all the others."
A penny is a small copper coin. We know it is not valuable at all, really. How many pennies do you see thrown into fountains? It's because we think they are not valuable. They are as valuable as an empty wish thrown into a fountain. People even throw quarters into fountains. That’s crazy to me.
Sometimes, the small things we have to offer looks ridiculous. It doesn’t look valuable at all. But God is pleased when we give to him even though it is small, because it is all we have. Our small offer may be more valuable than someone’s big offering. We will be blessed when we please God first.
Third, overcoming limitations by giving.
Jesus blesses us to overcome limitations in serving the Lord, including financial limitation.
She overcame her financial limitation and her family limitation. She put in all she had to the Lord. But the rich in the passage didn’t overcome any limitations. They gave only within their limits. They set the limit of what they could do rather than going for what God could enable them to do.
We shouldn’t let ourselves or our account status limit us in what we put in for God. God enables us to give much and to do his work.
The disciples learned from this poor widow. They got the message from Jesus. They gave even when they were poor. They got the message and overcome limitations. They became really good at it. Once when Peter and John were at the temple, a beggar approached them. How did Peter respond? Acts 3:6-8 say,
 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
He could have stopped after saying, “Silver or gold I do not have.” They had no money. But they had riches in Jesus’ name. And he gave that to that beggar. They even gave the Holy Spirit to others when they prayed for them and when they placed their hands on them. Eventually, they gave their lives in service to God. They kept on giving because God made them rich.
Today's passage is the last of our special message series about the blessed life in Jesus. One common thing we see in these passages is that what may seem small or insignificant is valuable and great to God.
Fishermen are called to be fishers of men.
Five loaves and two fish fed five thousand people.
What is done in secret leads to great recognition and reward.
Think about what Jesus told the fishermen. They hadn’t caught anything. But he said, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch [men]” (Luke 5:11).
When Jesus was given the five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people, he gave thanks to God.
We are blessed in Jesus with a new life where we can do what is meaningful and great even with what is seemingly small and insignificant.
In today's passage a woman gives two very small copper coins. But to Jesus she put in more than all the others who brought gifts that day.
We should not be discouraged by the small thing we offer. It may be more than all the others. By the same truth, we should appreciate the small gifts and great sacrifices of others. Let’s also pray to apply this in our ministry at the campuses for school is now starting. Don’t be discouraged by what you don’t have, but put in, give to God what you do have. It is very valuable.
Let’s look at verse 3 again. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”
May God bless you to put in what you have. And he will enable you to do even more than that.