Jesus once told his disciples, “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV). Really? I struggle to see how that works at times. Logically, if I give something away, I no longer have what I once had. But the teachings of Jesus are anything but logical—at least the way the world normally works.
In the interest of taking us back to our original created purpose, Jesus takes what the world calls logical and turns it on its head. He shows us how real life is supposed to be lived. The Creator of the universe gets to decide what is true and how we should function within reality as he has created it. So, the real question is, how do we follow Jesus’ right-side-up teachings in this upside-down world?
The Widow of Zarephath
The story of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:7-16 is an excellent of example of following God’s directions to give when it seems to make no sense. During a drought, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon. There, he would meet a widow who would supply him with food. Yet, when he arrived and requested food and water, it seemed clear that this was a mistake:
“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” (1 Kings 17:12, NIV)
Give and it will be given to you? “When he arrived and requested food and water, it seemed clear that this was a mistake.”
We expect Elijah to say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry; wrong house. I will bother you no more.” But that’s not how he responded at all:
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:13-16, NIV)
In this story, the one thing this widow needed to survive was food, as she was currently living through a drought. She could not buy food or grow it. As a widow, she didn’t have anyone else who would provide for her. What she had was all she had, and there was no hope for more. Yet God directed Elijah to this widow as the one to supply Elijah with food.
The result of giving what she so desperately needed? God ended up providing everything she and her son needed.
Give and it will be given to you? “God ended up providing everything she and her son needed.”
This Old Testament event is a physical representation of a spiritual truth, made clear by Jesus in Luke 6:38:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38, NIV)
In the context of mercy and forgiveness, which we all desperately need, Jesus says for us to give it away. And then he promises a greater return than what was poured out.
What About My Life?
I suppose this sounds fairly simple until you have to do it. How can we do this practically when life is hard, and the world tells us to tighten our grip on what we have?
It is in these moments we have a choice to trust God or not.
Give and it will be given to you? “It is in these moments we have a choice to trust God or not.”
There was a season I remember feeling unloved, unappreciated, and abandoned. My initial reaction to this was to wallow and have a pity party. But instead, that day I gave away the one thing I needed at that moment. In my heartbreak, I decided to text a friend to tell her how much she was loved and appreciated, and that I was here for her. And you know God is so faithful. He keeps his word, always. Not only was my friend encouraged, but God used my friend to fill a void I had—and to fill it to overflowing. So much so I had even more encouragement to give to others.
God uses us to fill holes in others. In the process of obedience in which I encouraged my friend, both of us ended up being taken care of. Just like in the story of the widow of Zarephath.
“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.” (Luke 6:15-16, NIV)
Give and it will be given to you: “So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.”
How can we live right-side up in an upside-down world? We have to choose to trust Jesus over how we feel.
As Jesus said in Matthew 5:7 (NIV), “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
It is time to flip our understanding from what feels right to what is right: the right-side-up teachings of Jesus.