Teaching Stewardship Through Pennies and Pancakes

Kim Sullivan

September 12, 2016

Sometimes children feel they don’t have much to give. Like the little drummer boy, they have no gift to bring. Yet, we all have something we can offer. Scripture is clear about the beautiful impact that small gifts can make on the world around them.

Pennies: A Widow’s Tithe

Mark 12:41-44 shares this story

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 few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, 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.”

Jesus is sitting and watching how others are giving. The attitude and manner in which we give is more interesting to God than how much we give. He sees our hearts as we give. Even though the widow only gave a few cents, she gave what she had, and because of her generosity, Jesus said she gave more than everyone else. Your two cents can be worth more to God than the millions of dollars that the richest one-percent might donate. It is all in your attitude. Reinforce this idea with your children by celebrating the gifts they give to you. Never patronize them about a picture drawn, a peanut butter sandwich made, or a dollar-store trinket. Look at the heart of the gift and celebrate!

Pancakes: A Widow's Lunch

1 Kings 17:12-14 shares this story:

But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die." Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. "For thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.'"…

At first the widow didn’t think she had anything to give, but God can multiply even the smallest of gifts. She didn’t recognize the gift in her hand (or in this case in her cabinet). Often, our children compare their gifts to what a grown up can do. They feel they have nothing of value to give. However, there may be a craft they can make, a hug they can offer, or a song they can sing.

In each case, a heartfelt gift of a child is a reflection of a grateful heart. It is a seed of behavior that, if cultivated, will continue to bear righteous fruit for a lifetime (see 2 Corinthians 9:10). When a seed is planted, provision is planned. We cannot despise these small beginnings, because small beginnings acted upon and cared for rarely end up a small ending.

Both of these widows have a lesson to teach to our children, and to us. When we give what is in our hand, we honor God and his providence. It serves us well to understand that pennies and pancakes make the best offerings because they reveal a heart that cannot survive without finding a way to meet the needs of others. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 reminds us: 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.


About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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