There was once a king who wanted to build a church that would honor him. He would personally supervise the work and only he would provide the money for its erection. The glory was to be his, and it was intended that by this means his name would be revered and remembered by successive generations. In fact, he forgot God in the matter altogether.
In due course the church was finished. On its completion he commanded that a tablet be placed on the side of the building on which his name would be carved, together with the information that he was the sole builder and benefactor.
The church was opened with great pomp and ceremony, and the king retired that night well pleased with himself. But that night he dreamed that an angel came down from heaven and erased his name from the tablet and put in its place that of a poor woman.
When the king awoke next morning, he dismissed the dream from his mind. The next night he had the same dream. Again the angel erased his name from the tablet and replaced it with that of the poor woman. He awoke next morning, irritated, but soon put it from his mind. The third night again the angel came, and again his name was removed and replaced with that of the poor woman.
He arose next morning very angry and demanded that a search be carried out for a woman of that name. It was discovered that there was a poor woman of that name who lived on the side of the hill on which the church was built. He sent for her, and she came frightened into his presence. He demanded to know what she had done to spoil the glory of his work.
She answered: “Sir, I love the Lord, and was pleased to see the church being built to His glory. I wanted to give something, but I knew your wish, so all I did was to give the horses some hay and water as they toiled up the hill with the building blocks. I did nothing more, Sir.”
Suddenly the king saw that an action so simple and full of love to God had done more to endow the building than all his money. She had done more for the glory of God with her handfuls of hay and water than he had done with his magnificent gifts. So that it might be a lesson to both himself and his people, he commanded that his name be erased from the tablet and the poor widow’s name carved there instead.