Too little?

© May 2, 2018 | Schulter Etyang

The Bible is all about Jesus. Genesis to Revelation tells the story of Jesus. Every character, event, plot line, genealogy and scandal is about Jesus. He is the thread in every narrative. A story? It had to be a story. Why a story? Science tells us that our brains are wired for stories. Evolutionists believe that with the invention of fire came the art or form of storytelling. But the Bible has known this all along. The Bible has been telling a story even before man was created. The story of one man – Jesus.

Hidden within the different characters, events, plot lines, genealogies and scandals in the Bible is this one man – Jesus. He is in the shadows. A trained mind or eye is able to see him – able to shine a light on him and expose him.

So let’s find Jesus in the story of Elijah and the widow. Shall we? 1 Kings 17:8-15 NKJV

Grace for outsiders

Elijah was sent by God to a widow. If you know anything about ancient cultures, widows were considered outcasts, disadvantaged, and outsiders. Being a widow in ancient times was a tough ask. Widows had no inheritance because the family’s inheritance went to the first son. But Elijah was provided for by this outsider. What does this mean?

Elijah shines the light on Jesus.

Firstly, Jesus is always attracted to the outcasts, the disadvantaged, and outsiders – those who don’t qualify – those with negatives. With Jesus, you see this on full display. He hung out with prostitutes, publicans, drunkards, and tax collectors. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, raised the dead, and turned water to wine. Wherever there was a negative, he was there. This is an emerging plotline in the story of Elijah and the widow – Grace seeks outcasts, the disadvantaged, and outsiders.

Grace seeks outcasts, the disadvantaged, and outsiders.

But when Elijah came to this outcast, disadvantaged, and outsider – listen in to her reply

As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

I, myself and my

Did you hear the recurring I, myself and my?

This is where the problem lies with all of us – I, myself and my. The problem reveals itself in two ways

  1. We think too highly of ourselves
  2. We think too low of ourselves

All of us either think too highly of ourselves or too low of ourselves. Thinking too highly of ourselves leads to self-sufficiency – “I don’t need you. I can do it on my own. I am fine.” Thinking too low of ourselves leads to apathy – “I don’t need you because I don’t qualify. I am not good enough. I don’t have enough.” Look closely and you will see that the root of both problems is I, myself and my. 

I tend to lean towards the “I don’t need you. I can do it on my own. I am fine.” At least that’s what I thought until Jenny showed up.

But still, Jesus comes to us. Jesus knows that our I, myself and my has nothing to offer him. Yet, that is what he asks from us – I, myself and my. Within the bankruptcy of I, myself and my, Jesus sees ingredients that he could use.

Within the bankruptcy of I, myself and my, Jesus sees ingredients that he could use.

The divine set up

Elijah ignores the widow’s plight. He does. He tells her, do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; afterwards, make some for yourself and your son. How incredulous his request. How insensitive. 

This is the same thing Jesus said to Simon and his brothers. Jesus said to Simon, “Hey, let down your nets and catch some fish.” Then Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”  (Luke 5:1-10 NLT)

Jesus doesn’t ask us for the many things we have. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do what we can. Jesus knows we don’t have the ability or resources to do what he asked of us. He knows. He ain’t stupid. However, in asking us for things we don’t have or to do things we cannot do, he sets us up for more.

In asking us for things we don’t have or to do things we cannot do, he sets us up for more. 

Whenever Jesus asks you for your little, it’s because he wants to make it much. He did it for the widow and her son. He made their flour and oil not run out the whole time there was famine in Israel. Simon and his brothers received such a haul of fish that they had to call out a few rival businesses to help them haul in the fish. Their business boomed so much that they became a blessing to others. That’s the beauty of grace.

What is your little? Your little could be your money, time, kids, work, relationships, health, education, career, business, marriage, home etc. Jesus works with little.

The poor God

Is Jesus asking of you what he hasn’t experienced? Is he? Not at all. Jesus was poor. Oh, yeah. Jesus experienced our poverty – our lack. Paul, a Bible writer says, you know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.  (2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT)

The Christian God is the only God who became poor. This is, in fact, an exclusive claim of Christianity. Our God entered our world and became one with us. He entered into the world of the widow and became poor. He knows what poverty is. He then took on our poverty so that he could make us rich.

So, when Jesus asks you for your little, it is because he experienced your little. He now asks you to give him your little, so that he can make it much.

That’s what grace looks like