Have you ever had the wrong perspective or seen something in a completely different light to reality? In her book, Just Such a Time, Lindsay Bruce tells the story of her journey towards finally buying glasses. After years and years of complaining about her diminishing eyesight she finally took the plunge and decided to get her eyes examined and order her much-needed glasses.
Arriving at the shopping centre she made her way confidently towards the green Specsavers sign. She took a seat in the waiting area and began looking around, surprised by the lack of glasses on display. She wondered for a few more moments before asking the shop assistant where all the glasses were.
“You mean the reading glasses?” he replied.
“No, I mean all of the glasses”. The confused look on his face told a story.
“Where do you think you are Madam?” he asked.
“Am I not in Specsavers?” Lindsay replied.
“No” laughed the assistant, “this is the chemist!” (cue the laughter)
Yes, this actually happened and could easily be used for a Specsavers advert. Lindsay’s eyesight was so bad she mistook the green chemist sign for the great big, green Specsavers sign.
The truth is we all have a different perspective and each of us looks at life with a different set of eyes. That’s why we have the saying about someone having “rose-tinted glasses”. The way we view life is determined by our perspective, the eyes we view life through – a bit like if you wear rose-tinted glasses, everything looks rosy.
Perhaps how you view family is influenced by your upbringing, whether positive or negative. Maybe your views on how to raise your children are different to your spouse’s views. It might be that you have a very different outlook on the important things in life compared to your parents or your brother or sister. And perhaps your view on what generosity is differs from the people you work with.
In the Bible in Mark 12:41-44 we read the story that has come to be known as ‘The Widow’s Offering’. In this story we are told Jesus is sitting in the Temple opposite the offering containers watching the crowds of people bring their offerings (they had large containers back then rather than a plate). We are also told that “many rich people threw in large amounts”.
Then the story takes an interesting twist: “But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few pence”. It’s interesting because this widow, with her two coins, actually had three choices:
- She could have kept both coins for herself – and most of us, if we were that poor, would have at least considered this option.
- She could have kept one coin and put the other one in the offering – and let’s face it, if that’s how this story had continued we probably wouldn’t have thought she was in the wrong to do this. Maybe this is the choice that we would have made.
- Finally she had the option to put both coins in the offering – which is the option she took.
Everyone in that crowd saw the same offering containers in the Temple, but this poor widow, unlike many others around her, saw this opportunity through generous eyes. She saw an opportunity not to be ignored. This widow – through “generosity-tinted glasses” – saw an opportunity to be extravagantly generous.
Even though she put in far less money than many around her, the amount became irrelevant because of the sacrifice she made. Jesus concludes the story by saying, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on”.
So Jesus isn’t teaching us that we have to give everything but rather that we can choose to view our life, our world, our relationships, our church and our giving, through ‘generous eyes’ or through ‘stingy eyes’. We can choose to live life with ‘stingy eyes’ but we may find that this leads us to a place in life where we didn’t really want to be – a bit like wanting to go to Specsavers but ending up in the chemist!
So I wonder how we will choose to view life – and it is a choice. Will we choose to view life, the world and the needs of other people through stingy eyes? Or will we make a decision to view life through generous eyes? The decision is ours.