i'm better UNdignified
a Christian life devotional
I was raised by a single mother from age 8, and even before that point we were usually close to broke. The last thing on our minds in time of struggle like this was to give, especially from the last food we had for ourselves. Why would God ask us to do that anyway? Doesn’t he know that we are barely getting by? Why doesn’t God ask some of these “rich” people or people with at least more money than we to help the needy?
In 1 Kings 17, we look in on a very similar scenario. There was a great drought in the land and God had been sustaining the prophet Elijah in the Kerith Ravine. God flew bread and meat to him by ravens and told Elijah to drink from the brook. When the brook dried up, God sent him to a new place. God told Elijah, “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food” (verse 9 NIV). Reading this, I’m thinking okay, Elijah is going to get to Zarephath and here will be this widow waiting with food. However, this thought could not have been more wrong. Elijah got to the town gate, and there was the widow, but she was not waiting with iced tea and sandwiches. Not only was she not waiting with food, but she had no food and she surely was not expecting the prophet Elijah (of all people) to ask her for any!
The widow told Elijah, “‘As surely as the Lord your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die’” (verse 12). This widow was not only a single parent, but she and her son had only enough food for one more meal and they were on the verge of dying from starvation. WHY would God send Elijah here for food? With the drought, pretty much everyone was struggling, but surely there were some with more than this woman, or at least some who were not single parents. And as if it didn’t look bad enough, Elijah asked the woman to feed him FIRST with the last of her food.
Despite the appearance of things however, God soon shows us some justification. In verse 14, Elijah told the woman, “ 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 sends rain on the land.’” Wow! Do you see what just happened here? By giving Elijah the last of her food, before feeding herself and her son, the Lord sustained her and her son through the drought. What a blessing in disguise! If the widow would have turned Elijah away when he asked for food, her and her son would have eaten the last of their food and then starved to death. But by listening to the word of the Lord through Elijah, and feeding him first from what they had left, they were blessed.
Then, in addition to being blessed with food through the drought, the Lord blessed the widow and her son yet again. Because they gave Elijah the last of their food and let him stay there, God performed a miracle for them through Elijah. Later in the chapter, the widow’s son became ill and soon stopped breathing. Verses 21-22 tell us, “He [Elijah] stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, ‘Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!’ The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.” Out of the small act of kindness, service, and faith in the Lord that the widow showed to Elijah, the Lord saved her and her son first by not letting them starve, and then saved her son yet again, by bringing him back to life. This all stemmed from a woman who put a hungry, homeless man (Elijah) before herself, and even her family.
Jesus instructs us in Matthew chapter 5, verse 42, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” These words sound good, but sometimes we feel like we are just not in a position where we are able to give. However, if we follow the Lord’s instructions and give to those who ask even when we are struggling, I assure you that He will provide if we have faith in Him. As shown in the following example, God surely looks with favor on us when we give even when it hurts:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on (Mark 12:41-44).
Have you ever been put in a situation where you were asked to give from the last of what you had? What did you do? Were you blessed?
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Father God, please guide us as you place us in situations where we may be asked to give the last of what we have to help someone else. Please lead us in your Holy Spirit to react as Jesus would and please bless us and provide for us as a result. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Bible References Today: 1 Kings 17, Matthew 5:42, Mark 12:41-44