Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

Remember, this widow was not required, or expected, by God or the Mosaic Law to do this. She was exempt from the Mosaic tithe, because (being a woman) she could not own land and (being a widow) it is likely she lived off the generosity of family and friends.

All the same, Jesus commends her for her generosity. Her spirit, Jesus says, is exactly what the Kingdom of God should look like.

Just prior to this in Mark 12:31, Jesus says that loving the Lord your God with everything you are cannot be separated from loving your neighbor as yourself. This means that widows are blessed and bold for giving when they have nothing. This also means that the rich are expected to care for these same widows. This means that those in the Kingdom of God should never starve, because we are all called to give. (The story of the Good Samaritan is a wonderful example of this attitude of total selflessness and generosity.)

So… How Much Should I Give?

And the crowds were questioning [John the Baptist], saying, "Then what shall we do?" And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise" (Luke 3:10-11).

Well, John the Baptist (as can be seen above) prepared the way for Jesus and set the standard of giving at 50%. (You may remember that this is exactly how much Zaccheus resolves to give after encountering Jesus!)

Jesus goes even further, however. As we read earlier, he blessed the widow for giving everything she had. He told the rich young ruler to give everything he had to the poor. Now, I don’t look at these verses and interpret that literally every single person should sell everything they have and give everything to the poor. That would just create an endless cycle of poverty.

But it’s worth noting that Jesus clearly encourages boundless giving. 100% generosity. Nothing is off limits.

One the one hand, there is great freedom in this new Kingdom, because the judgment for generosity now rests with us.

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

However, there is also enormous responsibility. This is what Jesus had to say regarding that personal freedom:

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:15-21).