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“That we might have hope” (Romans 15:4)

First Kings, Chapter Seventeen

Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

Through the prophet Elijah the Lord let King Ahab know that a drought was coming. This drought, brought on by Ahab’s harlotry with false gods, caused hardship for the believer as well as the unbeliever. The Lord provided for His prophet by the use of a small brook and food miraculously brought by ravens. When the Lord brought these sources to a close, he directed Elijah with these words, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

Elijah was now to head to a heathen city–a city outside the clutches of the Kingdom of Israel, but not those of the drought. As Elijah approached the city, he met this widow who as yet knew nothing of God’s command to provide for the prophet. As events transpired, Elijah would provide her with the command and the opportunity to give; the Lord would provide the gift.

The widow was hard at work at a lamentable task. She was gathering up sticks for a cooking fire, a duty she no doubt had done countless times. The difference this time was that she expected it to be her last time. She had only enough flour and oil to provide her son and herself a last meal–and then starvation loomed. At this moment Elijah asked her for a little water in a cup. (I can think of many things that I might have said to Elijah in that situation, and yet the woman complied.) And then to add another burden to her generosity, he called to her, “Please bring a morsel of bread in your hand.”

Elijah had provided the widow with the command–“bring me a morsel of bread.” He also provided the opportunity to give–he was in need of food. On her part, the widow needed to find the source of the gift. And she did what we so often are tempted to do–look to our resources rather than God’s. She told Elijah that she had only enough for a last meal for her son and herself “that we may eat it, and die.”

Sound familiar? In our day and age we rarely run into the opportunity to actually provide a meal to a starving man. However, the Lord does provide us with the command to give and the opportunity to give. How do we react? Let’s consider some examples.

Your Resources And God’s

The church needs more offerings; do we say or think, “Do they really expect me to give more? I’m strapped as it is with all my bills and financial concerns.” One who reacts in that way is looking at his own weak resources and is forgetting that God in His wealth of resources says, “And try me now in this . . . If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

The church, Christian Day School, synod, or our family need more of our time; do we say or think, “With deadlines and commitments, how can I do any more? I only have so many hours in a day, and besides, there are an awful lot of others who aren’t doing their share.” These are our temporal resources; God’s eternal resources say, “My times are in Your hand” (Ps. 31:15).

Our talents have been called for; do we say or think, “But you know, we have so many other gifted people in the congregation. They would be better suited for the job than I am with my poor abilities.” If we say or think that way, we are looking at our paltry resources; look rather to God’s powerful resources, which say, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11)

We are all called upon to share the gospel; do we think or say, “You know, I understand that people need to hear about Jesus as their Savior. But the pastor has been trained to do that kind of thing.” We shouldn’t consider our own meager resources; rather, hear God’s mighty resources which say, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained . . . which none of the rulers of this age knew . . . But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:7-10).

How did that widow have the courage to provide for God’s prophet? She listened and obeyed God’s Word. She looked to His resources. “And Elijah said to her, Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, . . . For thus says the Lord God of Israel: The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.”

God has commanded us to give of our time, talents, and treasures. He gives us opportunities to use them for His service and for the service of our fellow man. Let us remember that He is the Source of all good and perfect gifts: the forgiveness of sins, our deliverance from Satan, the world, and death–as well as our material blessings.

And these resources which God has placed at our disposal are inexhaustible! Praise be to our merciful and gracious God!

“Freely you have received, freely give” (Mt. 10:8).

–Teacher David Bernthal