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Dave Brisbin

Giving Like Wind

How do you measure your own righteousness? Kind of loaded word. Maybe “rightness” is better. Do you even think about your rightness spiritually? How you measure up, how you’re progressing, what God thinks of you? The religious authorities of Jesus’ day had it all worked out. They measured their righteousness in three ways: how much money they gave to the temple treasury, how much they prayed, and how often they fasted.

Of course, they made sure everyone knew how much they were giving, praying, and fasting by making a show of every act of ritual righteousness. After all, what good was being righteous if no one knew about it? If it couldn’t benefit you in some way? For a religious leader to act and teach this way naturally puts him or her squarely in Jesus’ crosshairs as he works to redefine how we see our rightness with God.

Some days Jesus would just hang out at the temple, sit and people watch. It’s easy to think of Jesus always on a mission, but a little verse in Mark describes him sitting opposite one of the collection boxes watching the activity. He sees all the big gifts going in, “sounding the trumpet” with their reverberating impact, then a poor widow dropping in two small coins completely unnoticed except by him. In pointing out her willingness to give to others even in the uncertainty of her poverty, Jesus is showing us the real nature of rightness in giving.

Once a gift is defined as a specific amount or percentage, it’s no longer a gift, but a tax. And once a gift is understood as proof of rightness to a God who will reward, it’s also no longer a gift, but an investment. The reward of God is the intimate connection that occurs when we lose our sense of ourselves as separate beings in the flow between us and another. God’s spirit is like the wind: always moving and never seen. God’s reward is the same, always flowing and as unseen as God and spirit.

When we can give as the widow gave, in a moment of flow to the need of the moment, we will know just how right we are with God—the reward no one else will ever see.


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