2 Kings 4:1-7 (Part 3) – Are We Going to Be Like The Widow or The Rich Young Ruler?

Posted: April 16, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 4:1-7 (Part 3 of 3)

Elisha Helps a Poor Widow

Today, we pay our final visit to 2 Kings 4:1-7 before moving on to the next passage. Today, we are going to look at this passage from the perspective of the widow and her sons and how we can relate to their part in this story of God’s miraculous provision.

Fifteen to sixteen months ago, Elena and I had a choice to make. We had known for a while that we had been called to full-time ministry. In fact, we had known this for about 7 years at the time we had to make a major choice. In those 7 years prior to December 2017-January 2018, I had gone to seminary and gotten my master’s degree in Christian ministry. We had downsized our finances by paying off debts and getting a smaller house with a smaller mortgage. During those 7 years, we had become so involved in our church, we were part of the leadership team there. We were ready and willing in concept and theory to go into full-time ministry. But when the call finally came, we had a choice to make.

When Pastor Tim, the senior & founding pastor of Calvary Church of The Quad Cities, called me to offer me the job as Director of Business Services/Staff Pastor at the church, we had a choice to make that was difficult on so many levels. First and obviously, it was going to be a radical change in our finances. Though we had been preparing for this eventuality for many years and were positioned well for it, making the leap from what I was making at Fujikura America to what I was going to be making at Calvary was significant. Second, we were going to be required to move to a state and to a metropolitan area in which we had never lived, had no family even remotely near us, and had no clue really about the region. Third, it was actually a full-time ministry job not just a dream of one. This was real and this was it. It was decision time. This is where some of find ourselves when we pray for opportunities and the dream is always out there on the horizon but never actualized. In these times, when the entry into full-time ministry is just a dream and just out there somewhere on the horizon, it is easy to fantasize about what life will be like in ministry. However, often when the time comes and the dream becomes a reality, we back off from it because of doubt, because of excuses, because of…you fill in the blank.

It reminds me of the scene with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 where Jesus tests the faith of the young man but telling him to go home and sell all his possessions and follow me. For the young man, this was too much to ask. Certainly, Jesus was not against us being rich or having nice things, but He was against those things becoming so important to us that they replace Him as our first allegiance. We must not become so wrapped up in our things or the lack of them that we make them the throne of our heart instead of Jesus.

So when the call came to go into full-time ministry, we had a choice to make. Jesus was asking us to leave our cushy and safe life behind and follow Him. He did not promise that the following would be a romp through a daisy field. He did not promise that. He simply said follow me to Moline. He simply asked us to follow. That was a major step for us. The preparation for it is one thing but the actual doing of it is another. Follow me. Trust me. Gather as many jars as you can and I will fill them. Go home and sell all your possessions and follow me. How many of us are willing to have that kind of faith? I am not trying to pat my back or Elena’s back on this thing. We simply acted in faith in the God that we know and trust. Over the years, He has always made a way for us. He has always provided for us right on time every time. He has always protected us. And, so, there are those critical moments in life, where He asks you to do something completely on faith. Others may laugh. Others may be completely puzzled by our actions. But it comes down to faith. It comes down to how big you think your God is. It comes down to how much you trust Him.

That was the idea that came to mind when I read this passage for the third and final time. That idea was “how big is your faith in God?” In each of our lives as Christ followers, there are those “critical mass” moments where we must step out in faith or withdraw into doubt and excuses (and miss out on the provision of God for our faith and obedience). Let’s read the passage now:

Chapter 4

1 One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.

3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”

5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!

“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.

“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.

7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

In this passage, we see that the widow and her sons collected jars from friends and neighbors (probably over and above what they already had in their home), pouring olive oil into them from their one flask. The olive oil was used for cooking, for lamps, and for other uses as fuel. The oil stopped flowing only when they ran out of containers. The number of jars they had gathered was an indication of their faith. God’s provision was as large as their faith and their willingness to obey. How often do we limit God’s ability to perform miracles in our lives through a lack of faith (doubt) and an unwillingness to take the risk of stepping out in faith?

We all have those moments. Those moments that I call “critical mass moments”. Those moments where we have to put our money where our mouth is. Those moments where we have to put up or shut up. Those moments where we have to demonstrate whether we actually trust God or whether we are just all talk when it comes to trusting Him. What is your “critical mass moment” with God? If you haven’t had one already, it’s coming. We all have those moments whether we step out or come back to God with all the valid and reasonable reasons that we cannot do what He asks. Sure, God wants us to demonstrate to Him that we have done our homework to be ready for His call. We should no matter of whether God is calling us to something or not be prepared as if He is going to. We should live simply and do things to prepare our hearts and minds for God’s call. Sometimes, it will take years and decades to be ready. But when the call comes, will you be ready to step in faith like this widow or will you be like the rich young ruler?

Amen and Amen.

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