(no, not bugs)
I’ve been thinking recently of a Bible story. For those who weren’t subjected to Sunday school from an early age, here’s the synopsis: Jesus and his disciples are in the temple watching people drop their donations into the bucket. Several rich men dump in large sums of money. Then a widow (who is always depicted as old, even though there seems to be no contextual basis for that assumption) drops in two mites, mites being tiny coins of small value. Jesus points her out to his disciples and says, in essence, that her gift was greater than the rich men’s, because they gave abundantly out of greater abundance, while she gave her last penny.
I can’t agree with this at all. Regardless of how I feel about the historical validity of Christianity, I’ve always thought there were some solid basic values to be found in it. This is not one of them. In essence, Jesus is saying that the value of a gift is determined by its worth to the giver. Thus the woman, in sacrificing all her meager substance, is making a great gift. I say that the value of a gift is determined by its worth to the recipient. Here’s an example: let’s say you were homeless and hungry. Another homeless person gives you a dollar, which he could probably ill afford to part with. Then a rich man pulls a $20 bill out of his wallet without even bothering to look at it and hands it to you. Whose gift was greater? Jesus would say the $1 bill, because his teachings glorify sacrifice (along with self-denial, meekness, and a host of other related traits). Me, I’ll take the $20 every time. Sacrifice is nice, but it makes a lousy sandwich.
Am I misinterpreting Jesus’ lesson here? Am I interpreting it correctly, but he’s right an I’m wrong? What say ye?