Daily Archives: May 28, 2010

You can’t out-give God

I Kings 17:13-14

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid.  Go home and do as you have said.  But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.  For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.'” NIV

I’m now in the story of Elijah.  As this story of the widow at Zarephath unfolds, we learn that there has been drought so severe that the brook dried up.  God tells Elijah to go to Zaraphath, because He has “commanded a widow” in that place to supply Elijah with food.

When Elijah gets to the town gate, there is a woman there gathering sticks.  He asks her to bring him some water, and as she is going to get it, he calls after her, “And bring me please, a piece of bread.”

This is where she pours out her heart to him.  She doesn’t have any bread.  All she has is a little flour and a little oil.  She explains to Elijah that she is gathering sticks so that she can go home and bake a loaf of bread for her and her son, “so that we may eat it — and die.”

This woman has real problems.  She and her family are literally on the brink of starvation.  And yet, when Elijah asks her for water, she goes immediately to fetch it for him.

I am curious about the wording of verse 9, where God says, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”  I am wondering if she had, in fact, heard the command, and had determined that she did not have the means to feed someone else.  I am wondering if her plan was to eat the last of the food, so that when the stranger showed up, she could truthfully tell him that she had nothing to offer.  I think that would be pretty tempting … self preservation is a pretty strong instinct.  I can easily see how this might have been the case.

But, Elijah tells her to go ahead and make a meal for herself, but first, to make a small cake for him.  And then, he drops the bombshell, “the jar of flour will not be used up and jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.”

If I had been that woman, I think I would have thought that Elijah was telling me that the drought would be over the next day.  But, that wasn’t what happened.  The woman and her child and Elijah continued to eat each day from that same supply of flour and oil for some time.

You can’t out-give God.

This woman was faithful.  She did as God commanded and as Elijah told her.  She fed Elijah first from what she had, and then herself.  And, God was faithful to allow the flour and the oil to sustain them.

In my own life, I’ve found that if I am faithful in following God’s commands, especially about tithing, I am somehow always taken care of.  Despite multiple instances where I have worried that I would run out of money before I ran out of month, God has somehow always provided — a rebate check will arrive, or someone will send me a gift, or some sort of something will happen — the money shows up.

God is faithful.  He is not bound by time, or by my circumstances.  He has an army of children at His disposal who are willing and able to do His will here on earth.  God works miracles.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Hope, I Kings, Old Testament, Trust, Worry