If you’ve been reading my articles lately, then you know that I’ve been consumed with the idea that God can take a little and make it into a lot. I’ve primarily looked at this trait of God through the events around Jesus feeding the 5000, but there are many other similar occurrences throughout the Bible.
The Nothing that God Makes Into Something
Way back in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings, we find a relevant story involving the prophet Elisha. Elisha meets a woman whose husband has died and left her with a debt that she cannot pay. The creditor is going to take the widow’s two sons as slaves for payment. Look at what is said:
Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” 2 Kings 4:2 NIV
Aren’t we often like the widow? We feel like we have nothing to offer God. We think we are helpless. We want God to do it ALL for us.
I know I’m this way. I fail to recognize what I have in the form of talents, resources, time, energy and connections that might be able to solve my problems and/or help others for the glory of God.
In essence, the widow says to Elisha, “Oh woe is me, preacher, I’m poor in every sense of the word. Please help me!”
I think she only mentions the small jar of olive oil because she wants to make it plain how poor and helpless she is. She doesn’t see it as a possible solution. She sees it as the perfect symbol of her predicament.
But, Elisha knows God.
He knows that God can take a little and do a lot with it. He seizes on the small jar of olive oil and this is what he tells her:
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” 2 Kings 4:3-4 NIV
The woman does as the prophet of God tells her. Just like with the two fish and five loaves, the small jar of oil is multiplied. It fills ALL the jars the woman has collected from her neighbors and it wasn’t just a few!
God takes what the woman has to offer and He makes a BIG something out of what the widow considered nothing. After all the jars were FULL, the woman went back to Elisha.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
2 Kings 4:7 NIV
Not only did God save the widow’s two sons from slavery, He took what she thought was nothing and made it into PLENTY for her and her sons to live on.
He is the God of increase. He is the God of mercy. He is the God of miracles! He can do a lot with a little.
Do Not Overlook What You Have
Servant, never believe you have nothing to offer.
Bring what you have to God. Give Him your time, your talents and your resources. He will bless them and multiply them to do great things.
Stories like this one aren’t in the Bible by accident. They teach that God wants us to offer Him what we have – even when it isn’t much – and He’ll do the rest.