Devotions

When Enough Isn't Enough

December 6, 2017
“Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.’” 2 Kings 4:3 (NIV)
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Ever been in that place where you feel you’ve given God everything you have, and yet somehow God’s abandoned you? Can you imagine living your life completely for God — then being completely abandoned, with no future or hope?

In 2 Kings 4, we meet the widow of a prophet from Elisha’s company. She’s at the end of herself. She tells Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” (2 Kings 4:1b, NIV)

This woman’s circumstances were unbearable. But to her credit, instead of turning away from God, she turns to Him by going to Elisha.

After hearing her situation, Elisha asks her a question that echoes Jesus speaking to two blind men: “How can I help you?” (v.2) In moments like those, you need to know what you want. Elisha presses in and asks, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” (v.2)

Her response is a description of the state of her soul more than a description of her finances. She says she has nothing, except a small jar of olive oil.

Elisha tells her to go ask her neighbors for empty jars — and not just a few. He instructs her to pour the oil into all the jars until they’re filled and put them aside. The widow did as he asked. Then, Elisha told her to go sell the oil to pay her debts. After that, she could live on what was left.

This moment in Elisha’s life gives us insight into his understanding of how God works. He never actually tells the woman what God will do; he tells her only what she needs to do.

And although the widow feels she has nothing to offer, Elisha knows how even the little she’s entrusted to God will create a future she could never imagine. Our needs are God’s opportunity to reveal His generosity and goodness toward us.

A small jar of olive oil.

It’s amazing how God doesn’t need much to do much. He just needs everything we have, which is very little in comparison to God. Elisha then tells the widow to ask for empty jars. And he insists, “Don’t ask for just a few.”

Here, Elisha gives her a heads-up to not ask for too little. Her faith would save her life. Elisha seems to know the human inclination to expect too little from God. As if he’s trying to prod the woman’s faith: “Trust me, you’re going to want to have a lot of empty jars.”

She isn’t asking others to provide. All she wants are the empty jars. God will take what’s seen as worthless and turn them into containers for His abundance.

And there, the woman and her sons begin. She takes the little bit of olive oil and begins pouring the oil into the jars she’s gathered. The oil is multiplied over and over. She keeps pouring and pouring, and when all the jars are full, she says to her son, “Bring me another one.” He has to give her the bad news: “There is not a jar left” (v.6).

I imagine in that moment she wishes with every fiber of her being she’d collected more jars. It’s not incidental that when all the jars are full and not a jar is left, then — and only then — does the oil stop flowing. God does not run out of oil; the widow runs out of empty jars. Fortunately, it’s more than she needs. She’s able to sell the oil and pay off her debts, so her sons will never live as slaves.

God is trying to teach us something here. He fills every empty jar we bring to Him. He takes the small jar of oil and multiplies it into unimaginable abundance. Most importantly, when I prepare my heart to receive from God, I shouldn’t ask for “just a few.” I should get all the “jars” I can, because the moment they’re full, the oil stops flowing.

This isn’t about greed or avarice or choosing gluttony over gratitude. This is about posturing my heart and life in God’s direction, knowing while He may not give everything I ask for, He’s waiting to offer proof that He’s with us. God can do and desires to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

Father, thank You for Your Spirit which gives passion and power to make invisible beauty visible. Help me recognize and challenge the limitations I place on myself, and inspire my heart, soul and mind as l act courageously to become an example of how You can do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (NIV)

Psalm 2:8, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:

Our time on earth is short. How will you live a life of faith without regrets? Begin the greatest quest of your life through The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin Raphael McManus.

CONNECT:

If today’s devotion inspired you, connect with Erwin at www.erwinmcmanus.com.

Enter to WIN a copy of The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus. In celebration of this book, WaterBrook & Multnomah will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one by Monday, December 11, 2017.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

God cares about our requests. What’s one big thing you haven’t asked Him for yet?

In what area(s) of your life have you settled for less than what God desires?

© 2017 by Erwin Raphael McManus. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks WaterBrook & Multnomah for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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