"And the widow said, ‘I have not a loaf of bread baked in my house, I only have a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in a bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.'"
I Kings 17:9-14, Amplified Bible
"Generosity" - The quality of being liberal and abundant in your giving. Bounteous giving.
Have I experienced the blessing of being a generous person in my life?
The generous (woman) is always just, and the just who is always generous, may, unannounced, approach the throne of heaven."
John K. Lavater
"For what use is it when you give as much of your wealth as someone might give a spoonful of water from the ocean, and you don't imitate the widow's generosity of spirit."
In the book of Kings in the Old Testament, there is a very interesting story about a widow lady and the prophet of God, named Elijah.
As a background, there was a terrible famine caused by a lack of rain in Israel. The extremely wicked King Ahab and his even more evil wife Jezebel were terrorizing the nation under their demonic rule. Elijah, sent by God, went to Ahab's palace to inform him that times were going to get tough. A lack of rain was going to cause the earth to suffer. Of course, since Elijah was the bearer of bad tidings to the King, he was a hunted man. For his own safety, God led Elijah to a hidden area by the brook Cherith where he stayed until the day the brook dried up. Then God instructed Elijah to go to Sidon, a territory of land outside of Israel. God assured Elijah he would find a widow there who would take care of him.
STOP! The first question that comes to my mind is why in the world would God send Elijah to the home of someone who had so little herself? The lives of widows at this time in history were known to be "quiet lives of desperation." When a husband died, in most cases, all income stopped. And as we learn in the verses in I Kings 17, the widow in our story fit the mold. When Elijah met her, she was outside, collecting sticks for a fire to cook the last bit of meal she had left for herself and her young son.
And what did Elijah do? The nerve of the man! He asked for a cup of water, and listen to this; he went further, "Bring me a morsel of the bread in your hand!" (I Kings 17: 11). Talk about taking food from the hungry. This example is over the top.
The widow plaintively told Elijah, "This is all I have for me and my boy. We were going to eat this food and go home to die" (I Kings 17: 12). I am not sure I would have been so nice. I think I would have told Elijah, "Hey, mister, you look healthy. Go out and work for your own food. Don't try and beg bread from my table." But, this widow didn't act that way. The Bible says she, "Did as Elijah said." And what was the result? "She, he, and her household ate for many days" (I Kings 17: 15).
This alone would make this story a wonderful lesson on generosity. We give and blessings keep flowing into our lives. Remember my earlier question, "Why did God send Elijah to this widow's home?" God could have sent Elijah to a rich person's home. Someone who could afford to take care of Elijah. But God didn't send him somewhere else. God sent Elijah to this home. This widow's home. And we find out the real reason in verse 17 when the widow's young son became ill and died. The grief-stricken widow came to Elijah and said, "Look what's happened now. Did you bring this calamity on me? And all I've done is help you!"
To make a long story very short, God, through Elijah, raised the child to life and the final verse in I Kings chapter 17 says this: "And the woman said to Elijah, ‘By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.'"
This beautiful example of a life of generosity from a widow woman gives us a majestic view of what happens in our lives when we choose to be generous people.
Living lives of generosity doesn't mean we give so we expect God to give back to us. While there are some people who teach that if you give you will get - God's plan of generosity in our lives is so much larger than our meager idea of giving and receiving.
You see, the widow was generous because this was an essential quality in her life. God sent Elijah to her because He knew that even though she had little, she would share what she had. And by sharing the food she had with Elijah, her own supply kept coming. She never ran out of food. But, by generously giving food to Elijah, God's real blessing, life for her child, was made possible because she opened her home to someone else in need.
A generous woman receives not because she is generous but as a natural result of being generous. How do I know? Because God has told us so!
"I will open the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing and there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3: 10, Amplified Bible
A Generous Heart
"Often I have been poor and begging for crumbs from the rich person's table. Sometimes I didn't know I was needy until I saw the other's abundance of confidence or happiness or faith, and my heart cried out in hunger. Often I have been given not mere crumbs but a great banquet of generosity. I've been put in the seat of loving kindness, the entire table open before me. I've feasted on the bread of friendship, drunk from the cup of self-esteem and seen the blossoming of my faith mirrored in the eyes of my companions. Oh God, let me not forget these moments. On those days when my own table is rich, may I always remember to set extra places and chairs of loving kindness for the stranger outside the gate."
Psalms for the Road
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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