1 Kings 17:15-16 “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.”
By one measure, the widow’s gift was small. I can buy flour at Walmart for less than fifty cents per pound. That puts a very generous handful around ten cents. It doesn’t take much oil to bake a loaf of bread, just a few tablespoons. Again we are talking about 10 or 15 cents worth of your better olive oil. So, the woman gave up a quarter. Even if we assume that food prices were hugely inflated due to the drought, the value of her gift seems unremarkable.
By another measure, the widow’s gift was huge. She gave up all she had to live on for Elijah. Her trust in God’s promises led her to give, not her excess, but her all. And every day, God kept his promise by making sure there was enough food for Elijah, and this woman, and her son.
Sometimes when people talk about giving to church, you will hear them mention “ten percent.” That is not a bad guideline to follow. But you certainly notice that God was not asking the widow to give to church, just to Elijah. The Lord is looking for more than a cut of what we have. He wants it all.
When my wife wants a little taste of something on one of our children’s plates, she declares “Momma tax” and then takes a bite. God doesn’t declare “Pappa tax” on us. He doesn’t tax us. He owns us. He doesn’t want a bite. He wants it all—all our stuff, all your time, our whole self and whole life. They all come from him in the first place. How can we go wrong when we give to the one who gives us everything in the first place?
That doesn’t mean we don’t still have decisions to make about how much to give to church, or charities, or for groceries, rent, or mortgage. But when we remember where it all comes from in the first place, “daring to give” won’t feel very daring. And we won’t be concerned about how much excess we have to give. We can’t outgive the one who gives us everything.