This poor widow has put in more than all the others. (Luke 21:3)

YOU’VE HEARD THE EXPRESSION “Pay it forward.” Most of the time it’s referring to giving back a little of what you have been given—out of your good fortune, you share with someone else. Luke’s account of this story doesn’t say that the woman had just won the lottery or received a Christmas bonus. We can be sure she had experienced nothing like that. Why? Because of the comment Jesus made as He watched her drop in her coin.

Jesus knew this woman’s heart, and He expressed His favor for her gesture based on that. He knew her small offering was an extension of her faith and kind heart. She was willing to make a difference, give someone else a second chance, even out of her poverty. This is the ultimate gift, and Jesus used the opportunity to make a valuable point: our heart is the vehicle by which God moves mountains for others.

When we listen to our hearts, we function in the grace and mercy God wants to extend to all. We can only imagine the benefit this woman must have gleaned because of her act. God notices and reciprocates our generosity with grander things than we can dream. He can change our circumstances and our lives when we open our hearts to begin the circle of blessing. It’s a simple yet effective practice.

Give to someone today—not out of your abundance, but from your heart.

Jan Cline is the author of three devotional books. She is a speaker and founder and director of a Christian writers’ conference in the Northwest