I used to think I knew what that meant, but God recently gave me a new perspective on my old way of thinking. Let me say in the beginning that this is an incredible story. The first two paragraphs I speak about giving, the last are about the most incredible act of giving I have ever witnessed in my life. It was so amazing that it brought tears to my eyes and affected everyone that saw it; with tearful emotion as it will you as you read about it. I like you have sat in a pew, and watched the offering pass by me all my life. Since my dad was a pastor, and I have been a pastor, I have been to church like a zillion times and given in the offering more times than I can remember.
The offering has almost at times become a ritual to us. Sometimes, we pay no more special attention to it, that we do the announcements or the closing prayer before we are dismissed. Studies show that roughly 75 percent of the offerings received by a church each year are given by 25 percent of the congregation. According to researchers, Christians give a little over 2% on average a year of their income to the church.
That is why my eye-witness of the following account was so moving. It was the Sunday after the Haitian earthquake. The Pastor directed and pleaded for the congregation to open their hearts and pocketbooks to give to those in need in a special offering for Haiti. As the music began to play and the offering made its rounds, I noticed the elderly woman sitting in front of me. I had sit by her before and at her age she usually is very still and stands only with the aid of her cane. So I was surprised to see all the commotion she was making. She was desperately digging through every corner of her purse, with her elbow propped on her cane, looking for every dollar, dime, nickel and penny she had to put in the offering, trying to find all she had as the offering approached her.
As the offering bucket came to her, she was not ready. She held up the offering, taking a lot of time to dig for all she had. She was so frantic to give all she had, she then sat down, and her tiny hands shaking took and sat the bucket beside her as the usher waited at the end of the row. She then suddenly, in a flash upended her purse and started dumping it all out on the empty chair beside her and began sifting through all her items picking out all her various bills, quarters, dimes etc. She was oblivious to anyone around her or to the fact that various other items were falling out of the chair onto the floor. She was making sure that she had given all the money she had in her possession.
I have never witnessed anything so moving, as I have never witnessed the amazing effect it had on those sitting around her, including myself. I was so moved, tears immediately began falling from my eyes from what I was witnessing, as was the same from those around me who were also witnessing the event. The Spirit of God moved on everyone who witnessed her actions and we ALL went back into wallets, back into purses and begin adding to what was already in hand…As it brought tears to my eyes, the Lord taught me really with total understanding for the first time, the true meaning of a cheerful giver. I know now I have really seen one. And now when I pray concerning my giving I pray for the Lord to please give me her heart of giving, and ask that you might pray the same with me, so that God might be glorified in our lives.
I am thankful to the Lord that I was able to witness almost to the letter the same event that Jesus witnessed as was recorded in Mark 12:41-43 (The Message) Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”