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Summary: The generosity of the widow Zarephath to the prophet Elijah was in direct response to the initiative of God. Our generosity to others should be of the same nature.

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“Generosity Pays”

I Kings 17:7-24

The generosity of the widow of Zarephath to the prophet Elijah was in response to the initiative of God.

Generosity is a virtue we should cherish, as well as it is a personal response to the initiative of God, and a reflection of God’s goodness to us.

I want to challenge each of you this morning to adopt an attitude of generosity in response to the generosity of God.

For over 40 years, a lady named Eunice Pike worked with the Mazatec Indians in south-western Mexico.

During that time Eunice discovered some very interesting facts about the culture of the Mazatec Indians.

For instance, the people seldom wish another person well.

Not only do the Mazatec Indians seldom wish another person well, but they are hesitant to teach one another their various skills and trades.

If you ask the village baker, “Who taught you to bake bread?”, his most logical response would likely be, “I just know!”

Eunice Pike discovered that this odd behavior stems from the Mazatec’s concept of “limited good.”

They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around.

To teach another person, for example, how to bake bread, would drain yourself of the knowledge.

To love a second child means to have to love the first child less.

To wish someone well means you have just given away some of your own happiness.

A culture like that robs people of one of the most important keys to living successfully.

It’s the virtue of generosity!

Some years ago, Rod Sterling created a television show “The Twilight Zone.”

Most of the time the show was off the deep end, but sometimes “The Twilight Zone” had a real moral.

One episode was about a gambler who died.

When the gambler died, he was transported to a room with gambling tables.

Each time the man rolled the dice, he won.

Every hand of cards was a winning hand.

It seemed at first to the man that everything was right and he was in paradise.

Finally, however, the man realized he wasn’t in paradise after all, but instead, he was in hell.

He came to the realization that he was in hell because he had all the things any gambler could want but he had no one to share his winnings with.

The moral was simply that success in life is not in getting but in giving!

Generosity is the key to successful living because of how it returns dividends to you and you are the one who is blessed!

We discover a great example of generosity in one of the most unusual places in the Bible in First Kings Chapter 17.

Let me introduce you to the prophet Elijah if you do not already know him.

Elijah was a prophet in Israel during a time when there was no rain.

As a result, there was a famine in the land.

God had taken care of the physical needs of Elijah by having ravens feed him as he lived from the waters of the Brook at Cherith, but in time this water supply dried up.

Follow along with me as we read verses 7-24 in First Kings Chapter 17.

First Kings 17:7-24

Let’s pause to pray for God’s blessings as we study His Word:

The widow of Zarephath was generous and her generosity was blessed by God.

What can we learn this morning from this Bible experience of generosity?

First, we can learn that generosity is in response to God’s initiative in our lives.

God took the initiative in this Scripture passage, and the people of God responded.

God set up the situation for the widow to be generous.

God had taken care of Elijah through the ravens feeding him, but when the brook dried up, God told Elijah to go to a place called Zarephath in Sidon.

Zarephath was a place of Baal worship and the ancient Canaanites and Phoenicians relied upon the false god Baal to provide rain for their crops.

So God sent Elijah to the capital of Baal worship to be cared for, and in the economy of God, a poor widow had been prepared to receive the prophet.

God initiated the whole thing!

Occasions for generosity are more than opportunities, they are set up and orchestrated by God for us to be generous.

Can you identify events in your life that have called for you to be generous?

Is God calling you right now to be generous?

If God has blessed you with resources in abundance, I believe He is also calling you to be generous in your ministry to the cause of Christ through the church.

Perhaps God is calling you to be generous in forgiving someone who you feel has done you wrong.

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