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The Bible tells us about a terrible famine in the days of Elijah, and a poor widow of the town of Zarephath who was out gathering a few sticks to make a fire to bake one last bread-cake for herself and her son before they died of starvation. But God’s prophet, Elijah, came along and said, “Bake me a little cake first, and then after that for yourself and your son. And your jar of flour will not be spent and your jug of oil will not be emptied.” And that is exactly what happened! (1 Kings 17:10–16).
This poor widow put God first, by feeding and taking care of His prophet, and she miraculously survived three long years of famine. Her jar of flour was never empty and her jug of oil never ran dry! For three years of famine, she kept feeding herself and her son out of the same jar of flour and jug of oil.
At times we may feel like the widow of Zarephath, that we don’t have enough to give to others. But we can trust that God will bless us if we give to Him and His work, even from the little that we have.
The New Testament tells a similar story of a poor widow: “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.”
When Jesus saw the action of this poor widow, He called together His disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything” (Mark 12:41–44).
The temple may not have needed that poor widow’s offering, but God honored her sacrifice just the same. You can trust that whatever you give to God, He will bless you for giving. If your motive is right and your intentions are good, God will always bless you for giving.
The story is told of Sophie, a Christian washerwoman in San Francisco who was always praising the Lord, even though she worked very hard. One day on the streetcar she met a lady who knew her, and Sophie said to her: “Do you know where I’ve been recently? I’ve been to China, India, and the South Sea Islands.” The lady looked at her a little oddly, knowing that she never even left town. In fact, she was so poor that she could hardly even afford to ride the streetcar!
The lady replied, “What do you mean, Sophie? You haven’t even been out of San Francisco!” And Sophie said, “The money I earn from washing clothes is my blood, sweat, tears, and toil. It’s a part of me, and I gave of it to the missionaries, and it has gone out all over the world preaching the gospel!”
Money that is given to support God’s work and His missions is a part of the sender. You send part of yourself through your gifts to God’s work and missions. If you can’t go to the mission field, you can give to missions. It is the responsibility of God’s children who are not preaching the gospel to every creature themselves to support those who do. In so doing, you will invest your money in souls won and eternal dividends, and God will bless you for it. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
We read about this principle in the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan who found a poor man along the road who had been beaten by thieves and robbed. The Good Samaritan picked him up, placed him on his animal, and took him to an inn. He told the innkeeper, “Whatever you spend, I will repay you” (Luke 10:30–37).
The Good Samaritan represents the Lord, and the innkeeper is His steward, His followers. Whatever we spend to rescue and help people and bring them salvation, He will more than repay! Whatever we give to God and His work—whether our time, our finances or our resources—will not ultimately be a sacrifice; rather we are investing in His kingdom, and the returns will be far greater than anything we have invested.
David Livingstone (1813–1873), the British missionary who pioneered the jungles of Africa and died there on his knees, once said,
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. ... Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege... I never made a sacrifice.
David Livingstone could never outgive God. And although he gave his life, he’ll reap eternal dividends of immortal souls led to Christ forever.
As you invest your life, your time, and your finances in Christ Jesus and God’s work, you will have eternal dividends that you can never lose, that you will reap forever! God will bless you for giving and see that you don’t suffer any loss for it. You will see good returns on your giving: people helped, souls led to Christ, and the advancement of God’s kingdom. So put God first and He will more than reward and repay and bless you.
Jesus said, “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 back to you. Freely you have received, freely give” (Luke 6:38, Matthew 10:8).
You can never outgive God. God loves to outgive you, and He always gives you much more than you ever give. “For God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7–8).
From an article in Treasures, published by the Family International in 1987. Adapted and republished February 2024. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.