1 Kings 17:13-16 (New Living Translation)
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.
This is such a wonderful story. God tells Elijah to seek out a widow in the city of Zarephath and to ask her to share her food with him. When Elijah arrives, he immediately encounters the widow and learns that her food supplies are almost depleted. She is understandably concerned by his request for food, but decides to trust in the promise that God will provide for her because of her kindness to Elijah and her generosity with her own limited resources. God honors that promise, caring for the widow and her family throughout a prolonged drought.
When I graduated seminary, I was on staff at a church in South Florida. My first office window faced a courtyard where volunteers from the church food pantry would meet with the pantry guests. In the early days of that ministry, there were many times when the pantry shelves were pretty close to empty. But the volunteers never hoarded their dwindling supplies. They joyful gave away whatever they had, not holding anything back.
I would often watch people arrive at the pantry, tired and dragging. By the slump of their shoulders you could just see how beaten down they felt. Then they would be greeted with enthusiasm by the volunteers, treated with respect and love. They would be talked with and prayed for. Almost every time, the person would leave the courtyard with much more than a simple bag of food — they would leave with a smile and with a head held much higher.
And the smiles on the pantry volunteers — those were also amazing. Their joy was almost palpable. They were given the incomparable gift of showing God’s love in a real and practical way with the men, women, and children who visited the pantry.
When we lovingly and freely give of ourselves, we find that we are blessed in return.
How have you experienced blessing as a result of giving selflessly of yourself or your resources?