Giving out of Our Poverty

This past weekend was just a little bit crazy for the team of volunteers and staff members at the Bible Center where I’m staying. Correction: it was very crazy. And demanding. And trying. We catered for forty guests at the annual New Years conference.

Just before the guests were scheduled to arrive, we gathered together for a staff meeting. The plan was to discuss each of our roles over the next couple of days and make sure we were all on the same page. Except that’s not what we did. Instead, the director opened his Bible to 1 Kings 17 and read to us from verse eight through to verse sixteen.

Are you familiar with the biblical story of the widow who fed Elijah during the great drought in Israel when king Ahab was on the throne? I was. As the director introduced the story, I already had in my head this image of a picturesque story in which all the characters eagerly trust God to provide, and God provides. And they’re all happy.

0092-giving-out-of-our-poverty
Giving out of Our Poverty

Inadequate

As the director read, I reflected on why he chose to read it, even as a major New Years event loomed over us. His wife was sick and tuning in from home via Skype. We were down another staff member who was also sick. We were facing troubles with the heaters and breakers. We, a group of introverts, were expected to reach out of our comfort zones and connect with new people.

We could be using these spare few minutes to get organized and coordinated. We could be using them to reassign roles to make up for the missing team members.

Then the striking parallel dawned on me. I think God must have impressed it on my heart. Have a look at this snippet of the story in which God is speaking to his prophet, Elijah:

 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”

1 Kings 17:9 (ESV)

This widow lived with her son and had just a small amount of flour and oil left. In fact, when Elijah approached her and asked for some bread, she replied:

“As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”

1 Kings 17:12

Why did God command a woman in such a position of poverty to give up all she had? Why didn’t He choose someone more fit for the job? I believe there is potential for great discussion around such questions.

However, today I want to focus not on the reason why, but on the reality that God asks – even commands – us to give out of our poverty; our insufficiency, our inadequacy.

Maybe you’re facing your own “New Years Conference” sort of event. Maybe you feel too small.

Too weak.

Too tired.

Unable.

I’m sure the widow whom God commanded to feed Elijah felt the same – only worse.

Her situation wasn’t picturesque. It was bleak.

She wasn’t eager to give all she had. She was reluctant.

She literally thought she was going to die, regardless of whether or not she obeyed. And yet she obeyed. And God was faithful.

This year, let’s depend on God. Let’s be willing to give all we have, even when we think all we have is not enough. Even when we think we’ll suffer greatly for our obedience.

Now let’s discuss the “why” and the rest

  • Why does God expect us to give when it takes so much effort and hurts so bad?
  • But doesn’t God ask us to give our firstfruits, not our leftovers? What’s the difference?
  • Can you remember a time when you were in a position where all you had to give of yourself was all you had left (money, energy, resources, etc)?
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11 thoughts on “Giving out of Our Poverty

  1. Hmm…these are good thoughts! Perhaps the reason God asks us to give, serve, and work even when we are weak is so that we are forced to depend upon Him more. When we are weak, He is strong. I think God enjoys showing us His power…and when we trust Him, He gets all the glory. But it is hard and often painful for us to do the obeying part. Thanks for sharing, my friend!

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    1. Hi, my friend. Thanks for your kind words. May God be praised! And (may I expand on your thought a little?) I think that when God asks us to give and serve out of our poverty, He is not so much forcing us to depend on Him as He is giving us the opportunity to choose to depend on Him (or to choose not to). He knows that obedience is ultimately better, but He still gives us choice. May we choose well!

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  2. I agree, Jordy. I didn’t use the right words for that sentence, but yes…in trials, we do face the decision to trust God or turn away from Him. When we make the right decisions, it is so amazing to see the good that comes out of difficulties. Obedience is definitely worthwhile. =) Thank you for correcting me. =)

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    1. Not to discount your comment or to scare you away from sharing your thoughts! I just feel that God’s been impressing on my heart more and more, recently, how often He gives us the choice between obedience and disobedience, gratitude and complaining, dependence on Him and delusional self-sufficiency, etc. For example, one of my friends’ daughters often complains for more food after her snack. My friend reminds her that she has an opportunity to choose to be thankful, and encourages her daughter to make that choice. I think God is like that with us more often than I realize. What about you? Do you have any examples of when you face these decisions in everyday situations?

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      1. Wow…Jordy, I really needed to hear that. I suppose I don’t usually think of those little choices as being important. When I have a big decision to make, I definitely turn towards God and make prayerful decisions. However, I don’t usually do the same for small decisions. When you mentioned being thankful or complaining, it made me think. I have that choice all the time…but I don’t often think of it as a “choice.” We often live with mood swings…our happiness depends on if things are the way we want them or not. It reminds me of the verse that says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) We have everything we need…we just need to claim it and live by it. Do you have practical advice on how we can be diligent to live this out?

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      2. What you said pretty much describes the learning curve I’ve been on! I want to learn to recognize the many opportunities God gives me throughout the day to *choose* thankfulness.

        As for practical advice… perhaps there are cues that we can look for. I mean, when we notice ourselves starting to have a complaining heart, maybe we could view that as a cue to re-evaluate our attitude. Is there something I don’t want taken away from me? I can be thankful for having had it for a time and knowing the joy that it brought me. Is there something intervening with my plan? What might God be using this to teach me?

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      3. Thank you for sharing those thoughts. I have some cues that I like to use to remember God throughout the day…a beep on my watch to remind me to pray, something else that reminds me of Jesus’ sacrifice…and it truly does help to keep my mind focused. I agree that if we really evaluated out attitudes we would realize that when we are dissatisfied it is because we are not as close to Jesus as we should be. I appreciate you sharing what you are learning, Jordy. ♥

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      4. And likewise, I appreciate you sharing YOUR thoughts. The beep on your watch to remind you to pray – it reminds me about how I determined a similar cue for myself several years ago. I started to notice a lot more beeps; the microwave, timers… Unfortunately, the cue lost meaning to me rather quickly. Perhaps this is a good time to try taking note of beeps again. 🙂

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