Grandmother Bagley and Her Special Christmas Offerings
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all.
— Luke 21:3
Grandmother Bagley was a very beloved grandmother in our array of six different grandmothers — and she was a true genetic grandmother. She was a very simple woman who had a lot of faith. She had lost several husbands and children due to sickness, and although she was a financially poor woman, she was rich in faith. When I visited her house, she always made the most wonderful lunches. But when I asked for seconds, she was quick to remind me that I needed to be satisfied with what she had fed me because she didn’t have enough for seconds.
One thing I’ll never forget about Grandmother Bagley was her commitment and devotion to give offerings to Oral Roberts Ministries. I can still visualize her writing the name “ORAL ROBERTS,” filling out the address on her envelope, and then inserting a one-dollar-bill into the envelope. She would hold it to her
heart, pray over it, and put it out in the mailbox for the postman to collect it. When I saw this happen, I always knew I was beholding a very holy moment in the life of my Grandmother Bagley, for this was a huge sum of money for her to sow into that ministry.
Oh, how I loved Grandmother Bagley! She was kind, precious, and generous to others who were in need. She had suffered so much in life — the loss of her husbands and children — that she had a deep-seated compassion for people who were hurting in some way. However, when I saw her put money into that envelope, I knew she was truly sacrificing and giving what she could give by faith. It affected me deeply.
Every time I think of Grandmother Bagley, my mind goes to Luke 21:1-4, where Jesus said, “And He [Jesus] looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
It is, first of all, amazing to me that Jesus was standing near enough that He could see what people were giving in their offerings! Suddenly He saw a “certain poor widow.” The word “poor” is the Greek word penichros, which would depict someone who is abjectly poor. Jesus saw her place “two mites” into the offering box. A “mite” is from the Greek word lepton, the plural version of lepta, affirming that she placed two mites into the offering. It was the smallest, least valuable bronze coin in the currency of that day.
Yet in verse 3, Jesus was so impressed with the enormity of this widow’s faith and the size of her gift compared to what she financially had to give that He stopped everyone and drew attention to what this woman had done. He described this very poor woman, who had barely enough to survive, as one who put into the offering “more than they all.” The Greek here is comparative, and it indicates that all of the other wealthy people’s accumulated gifts did not equal what this poor widow put into the offering of God.
Then in verse 4, Jesus explained, “For all these [rich people] have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.”
Jesus said the rich had given of their “abundance.” This is the Greek word perisseuo, and it describes excess. In other words, it didn’t touch their real fortune; it was just a small tip that they put into the treasury. But the poor widow woman gave of her “penury” — the Greek word husterema, which refers to the last bit of money she possessed. It took no faith for the rich to give of their excess, but it took great faith for this poor widow to cast into the offering box all that she had. She was fully entrusting herself to the care of God in the belief that He would supernaturally meet her ongoing physical needs. Even though the amount the woman gave was smaller, the faith required to give it was larger.
Every year at Christmastime when we receive special offerings for our church in Moscow, I see Grandmother Bagley in my mind’s eye. Just like this poor widow woman Jesus described in Luke 21:1-4, my grandmother gave nearly all she had at Christmastime to support the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. It was a monumental act of her faith as she placed that special offering into the envelope, licked the seal, pressed it shut, and then held it to her heart in prayer.
When Grandmother Bagley left that envelope for the postman to pick up, she was sowing her best seed into that ministry. And just as Jesus watched the poor widow woman, He was watching my grandmother — as He watches all those who sacrificially give with faith. This is something that really gets Jesus’ attention!
I don’t know what your financial situation is like this Christmas season, but I urge you to give an offering into the work of God’s Kingdom that will cause Jesus to stop and take note. It’s not the amount; it’s the faith required to give the amount that causes Jesus to stop and pay special attention. Pray about it, and see what the Holy Spirit would put into your heart to give during this holiday season to help impact people’s lives for eternity!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, so often I’ve given of my excess and never really dipped into an amount that could cost me to use my faith. I am corrected today, and I will change. Today I make a deliberate decision to exercise my faith in a greater way by choosing not to refrain from giving even when my offering is small. Like the widow’s mite, my offering will please and honor Jesus because it is a gift from my heart that requires more faith than if it were merely a token from a surplus supply. Without faith it is impossible to please You, Father. And I seek to please You above all else. Holy Spirit, help me to know how much to stretch my faith, how much to give, and where to sow my seed so it will make a difference. I am sincerely asking for and receiving Your wisdom in this matter.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that from this moment onward, I will not casually give offerings out of my excess. Rather, I will dip deeper and truly give sacrificially to the Lord. I thought I was doing what was right, but I am convicted by what I have read today. I am going to make a change in my manner of giving. I am going to give on a level that requires more faith on my part. I affirm this day that whether I am giving of my time, my talent, or my finances, faith and love will be evident by the manner in which I give.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of someone who gives sacrificial gifts, especially at Christmastime? Who is that person, and how has his or her giving affected you?
- Can you think of someone who struggles financially but continues to faithfully give his or her tithes and offerings to the Lord?
- Did you have a friend or family member in your life like my Grandmother Bagley who deeply impacted you with their faithful giving? If so, who was that person? Would you consider taking a moment, if it’s still possible, to thank this individual for his or her faithfulness to the work of God?