Pour It Out
"And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee." (1Ki 17:8-9)
"And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah." (1Ki 17:12-16)
When we have something essential, or rare and special, in short supply, our thought is that we should be stingy with it. This goes to a lot of areas of our life. Have you ever had a box of some special treat, like chocolates, or cookies, that was so good you just wanted to eat them one after another? But, you think, it would be better to just eat one every now and then so that they last longer. Something that is rare and special is something that we want to ration so that it will last longer. As another example, think of someone crossing an arid area with only a little jug of water to sustain them. They will only take a few sips of water at a time in order to make sure there is enough to last. Better to be a little thirsty than to die of dehydration, we would say.
But, maybe more common, we are told to save our money for a rainy day, or to buy something important. Hold back on our appetites, restrain ourselves, so that we can plan for the future. Instead of just spending money as fast as it comes in, living for today, it's better to be frugal and prudent so that you get the most out of life in the long run.
Funny thing is, the Bible says the things of God don't work that way. In this story of Elijah, it seems like God made a mistake. He sent Elijah to a widow to be fed. The problem, it seems, is that the widow didn't have any food to speak of. She only had enough for one meal, and was thinking it would be her last meal. So, here's the prophet of God, taking the last bit of food from this poor widow and her son! That's not exactly how the world would do things, is it? Elijah could have apologized, said maybe God made a mistake, or maybe Elijah got it wrong. Instead, Elijah just told her, "Feed me first from what you have."
Outrageous! But, look what happened! That little bit of flour and oil just kept multiplying over and over again and not only was Elijah fed, but the widow and her son as well. That's incredible, but it's nothing compared with what happened with Elisha.
"Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed." (2Ki 4:1-6)
Like with Elijah, we have a little pot of oil. The more it gets poured out, the more there is to pour out. Only, this time, the oil doesn't just pour out a little each day. There is a veritable flood of oil here. They poured and poured until they couldn't find anything left to pour oil into. Then the oil stopped.
Can you see the pattern here? When you rely in faith on God's provision as your source, there is no shortage. How much you have at any moment is no indication of how much there is available. With the things of the world, the more you use, the less you have. But with the things of God, the more you pour out the more there is left to pour out. So, our thought processes have to change from the worldly view of "preserve what is precious" to God's view, which is "pour out abundantly what is precious."
What happened with Elijah and Elisha foreshadows what Jesus would do. First, there is the story of the loaves and fishes. All it took to feed a multitude was for one person to take their small amount and give it to Jesus. In the end, not only was everyone fed, but there was more left over than when they started. Jesus also put it this way:
"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (Joh 4:13-14)
When the Holy Spirit comes into you, it becomes an internal source of blessing. It just continues to pour in the more you pour it out. You have to drink deeply and continuously from that well of the Spirit in order in order to be filled. But unlike the things of the world, if you are thirsty in the Spirit, it means simply that you are not pouring it out. The more we are motivated by the Spirit within, the stronger that Spirit becomes. We become the vessels that are continuously filled up from the wellspring of God's spirit.
All of these events are symbolic of God's desire for us. Unlike the things of this world, there is no need to hold back, to preserve or ration the things of God. The more the gifts of the spirit are used, the more we have available. The more faith we exercise, the more faith we will have. The more we walk in the spirit, the greater the spirit moves in us. The more mercy, forgiveness and love we pour out, the more love we have available to give.
So, don't be stingy with the gift of the Spirit. Pour it out.