“8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks.
And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now 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.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
1 Kings 17:8-12
As one can see from reading the above story, this Woman of Zarephath was in a jam. She was gathering sticks in preparation to cook one final meal for her and her son, and then die because she had no hope due to her desperate situation. So here comes a man sent by God to ask of her something that she really did not have to give. She is facing a dilemma that I pray none of us face. Giving her only meal to the prophet meant her and her son would die sooner than the already few short days they had remaining. Her decision came down to obedience to the instruction of the prophet.
With this promise on the table, the widow must decide on her best course of action. I would adventure to say that obedience was not easy in this matter. The consequence of her action could mean sure death. She had to have the faith necessary to believe the Lord would treat her well based upon the Word of the Prophet. In this case, she made the wise decision and she reaped the benefits for many days.
So many lessons could be gained from this text, but I would like to take a moment to focus on the heart that was in the Widow. Before the Prophet promised her that her and her son would not die, she already was acting as a Christ Like giver in the fact that she was obviously hungry and busy gathering the sticks to satisfy her and her son’s hunger. Placing the prophet’s needs before her own, the Word plainly records that she was already going to go get the Prophet the water he requested before she had any idea that she would receive anything for her giving.
The Word of God is a sword which we can be used to judge our own hearts and the motivation behind our actions. So, what are some of the main reasons people give. Below are some descriptions of internal motivations for giving (Seven Types of Giving – Minsitry Magazine, 2017).
Find your most prominent reason for giving from the list above. Remember there is grace and mercy if your motivation is not correct, and one form of this grace and mercy is this teaching in order to help you recognize anything that may not be in order or in line with the heart that the Lord desires for us to have. As with any transformation that we desire to Lord to accomplish in our lives, that change starts with a brokenness and humility to repent and to begin to do things the way He has commanded.
Now that we have covered motivations that lead people to give, we understand that someone can do the right thing for the wrong reason. This act would be as displeasing to the Lord and not obeying at all, so examination of our heart is necessary as a first step in the direction of becoming a Christ Like Giver.
So, what are the various ways that we are commanded by God to give? We will look at four different ways to give (Four Types of Giving – Hannes Lerke Ministries, 2017) per the Word of God. Just as Elijah gave direction to the Widow, the Word of God gives us Believers instructions on how to give. He may not be asking us for our last bit of flour and oil for bread, but obedience to His Word with the correct heart posture toward Him is essential! We can count on Him to remain faithful and true to His promises.
The Tithe (10%)
God has blessed you with 100% of everything that you have and now He is asking you (Like Elijah asked the Widow) to give 10% back to Him, so that He can continue blessing you through the 90% that remains in your control.
Here the motivation is simply obedience and the reward is the blessing.
God promises you opened windows (floodgates) of heaven, to pour such an abundant blessing on you, that you don’t have room enough to receive it.
With that blessing comes God’s promise to keep the devourer from all you’ve got. Which means that the devil cannot lay hands on your car, your fridge, your kids, your house or any other thing anymore.
For your tithe to work, it is vitally important that it is given to the storehouse, which is the place where you get your spiritual food. Galatians 6:5-7
Your future lies within your seed, because seed sown in the good ground is what will spring forth and multiply 30, 60, 100 or as many fold as you dare to believe for.
Here the motivation is the reward, which is a harvest of at least 30, 60 or 100-fold return.
For your seed to work, it is vitally important to sow it into the good ground, which can be a church, ministry or just any group of people coming together, teaching the truth of God’s Word. – Your heart will reveal to you where that good ground is.
Proverbs 3:9-10 & Nehemiah 10:36
First fruits should be given at least every year and they are always the increase of your income, compared to your income in the previous year. It is a way of showing God that you are not in love with money, but simply grateful for Him supplying you.
Here the motivation is generosity and the reward is the abundant life.
It is important for your first fruits to be brought to the house of God, to the priests and ministers therein. Consider your heart and you´ll know where that place is.
Matthew 6:3-4 & Proverbs 19:17
Alms is the only type that should be given to people, churches or ministries, because they are in need, whereas the others all have another major motivation behind them.
Here the motivation is compassion, sympathy and love and the reward is reimbursement, joy, and treasures in heaven.
It is vitally imports to be given in secret, protecting people’s dignity in their crisis.
Even though God promises a reward for almsgiving, your motivation should never be the reward, but the love towardant for your alms others in need.
So as we provoke one another to righteousness in being Christ Like Givers, I encourage you to examine your heart today so that we may bring the Lord the honor and the glory due His name. Just as Elijah promised the Widow a great blessing if she were to obey his words, The Lord has many promises in store for us who will obey His Word in the areas of one of the most poignant items that represents who we are through our toil and labor, our money. It is no wonder the Word says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21