When reading the story of the widow and the oil in 2 Kings 4:1-7, I observed some very powerful principles. I used those principles in a sermon titled, “What do you have?”
Here are the key points:
- I have something
- I must anticipate blessing
- I must commit everything
- I have more than enough
- The widow felt that she had nothing. When Elisha asked her, she said, “Your servant has nothing there at all.” Then she added “except a little oil.” Some people tend to keep a “victim” mentality and feel that they are abused and short-changed in everything. But the reality is that we do have SOMETHING! It may be small and insignificant, but we have something.
- God never asks for more than we have
- If we only have a little, then God does not require much
- The question is not “What can you GET?” Rather, it is “What do you HAVE?”
God wants us to count our blessings instead of our battles. He does not call those who are equipped, He equips those He calls! Moses felt that he was incapable of facing pharaoh & the children of Israel. But God said, “What is that in your hand?” and it miraculously was changed into a snake which later became a sign to everyone that God was directing the events.
The “little oil” that seemed so improbable as a means of saving her sons, became the instrument of their salvation. Likewise, God wants to take the insignificant things in our lives and transform them into the solution to our problems.
- Elisha told the widow to do something. She was to go to her neighbors & borrow empty jars. Imagine that you did not know this story and how it ended and then imagine that your pastor told you “Go borrow a lot of buckets and bring them to church on Wednesday night.” How many buckets would you actually go and BORROW? Probably not a lot. In most cases, I would be surprised if there were more than 6-8 buckets brought to the church.
- God provides the vision of good things to come
- He expects us to trust Him and obey His instructions
- If our expectations agree with God’s vision, great things are in store
We must never be guilty of setting our goal lower than the vision that God has given us! If the widow had only borrowed a few jars, the oil gained would not have been sufficient to pay off her debts. I believe that the number of jars determined how long the oil would continue to pour. When she ran out of jars… “then the oil stopped flowing.” The level of her anticipation (e.g., “faith”) and vision determined the level of God’s blessing! What would have happened if she had borrowed another 50 jars?
- The widow had to renounce all other “answers.” Elisha told the widow to “shut the door behind you and your sons.” There is a real crisis of faith when we close the doors to any alternative “solutions.” But it is when we become desperate and recognize that we have no other alternatives, that God can bless. As long as we hold on to the possibility of “plan B,” God is not likely to send a miracle.
- There is a crisis when we commit to God’s plan as the ONLY way
- God never asks more than we can do
- God will always provide whatever we need in order to accomplish His will
If we have totally committed to Christ, then we will shut the door and begin pouring. But shutting the door is the hard part. Think about Peter walking on the water. Although I have never walked on water, I am convinced that it is not difficult to do. The hard part is getting out of the boat! Can you imagine stepping over the transom of a boat and just assuming that the water would hold you up? So, walking on the water would be easy AFTER you develop the courage, faith, confidence (or whatever) to step out of the boat onto the water.
When she started pouring the oil from a small container into a larger one, she could have said, “God is asking too much of me. This is impossible and I cannot do it!” On a literal scale, that would have been true, BUT GOD….! But God said do it. And if her original container held a pint of oil, then after she filled the gallon jug, she must have been pretty high on the glory scale!! I imagine that she and her sons were dancing a jig – in “joy unspeakable and full of glory!”
Remember, God equips those He calls. When He asks you to do something, He will provide all that you need to accomplish the work.
- God provided MORE than the widow asked for. After she shut the door and began to pour the oil, an amazing thing happened! The oil continued to flow until she had filled all the vessels that she and her sons had gathered. And when she announced the miracle to Elisha, he told her to “sell the oil and pay your debts.”
She had requested that Elisha help her pay the debt and free her sons from slavery. God did that with flying colors! But then our Father went even further, “You and your sons can live on what is left.” The phrase, “what is left” deserves further study that I cannot do right now. But the truth is that God provided much MORE than the widow had requested. That is just His way. Trust Him today and see what happens!
Notes: Check out Lauren Talley’s song, “More.” It is a great song and fits extremely well with the content of this sermon. You can download my outline file (.DOC format) here.
Your comments are always welcome.