Summary: More Than Enough Sermon Series for Stewardship - Week 4.
2 Kings 4:1-7 NIV
The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to 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 Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" "Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a little oil." 3 Elisha said, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side." 5 She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another one." But he replied, "There is not a jar left." Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left."
“Jars of Oil”
She Has Nothing
A young college co-ed came running in tears to her father. "Dad, you gave me some terrible financial advice!"
"I did? What did I tell you?" said the dad.
"You told me to put my money in that big bank, and now that big bank is in trouble."
"What are you talking about? That's one of the largest banks in the state," he said. "there must be some mistake."
"I don't think so," she sniffed. "They just returned one of my checks with a note saying, 'Insufficient Funds'."
It just so happens, in our scripture text today… we find another woman crying. Our story begins with a widow weeping. It’s not just because her husband was dead… even though that would be enough... but she is also buried in debt. It really wasn’t even their fault! They did the best they could on a prophet’s salary… which wasn’t much. They were good and kind people who just got a little behind. No matter what they did it seemed like they never had enough. They were never able to get ahead. Once they were in that hole, it seemed like they would never be able to crawl out of it.
And now… now that her husband was dead, the creditors wanted to settle the account. Now, this was a time before they even had coins or money for trade. Instead… it was a barter economy where your land, your property… even YOU were the only things worth anything. This widow didn’t have land and she didn’t have any property. It didn’t matter… they’d find a way to settle the account. The most obvious solution: her two sons. Her two sons could make themselves indentured servants, and work for years… and years to pay off the debt. The creditor would become their master, and they would become his property. Setting their mother free… they would become slaves. The two boys would not be free until the debt was reconciled.
Desperate, the widow turned to Elisha, a friend of her husbands. “Help me! Help me please! My boys cannot become slaves, yet I don’t know any other way out! I’m desperate here. Please, PLEASE… their must be something that you can do?” I’m not sure what she expected. Perhaps there was a charity that could help. Perhaps Elisha could talk to the man and convince him to forgive the debt! Maybe Elisha could walk in with his staff and bring the fire of God down upon their heads! Who wouldn’t like that! God sending fireballs down upon your credit card company… wiping them clean off the face of the Earth. In fact… I want to be the next in line to talk to Elisha.
But Elisha doesn’t get out his checkbook. Elisha doesn’t go to plead with the man. Elisha does not bring fire and brimstone down upon her creditors. He asks a simple question: “How can I help you? Tell me what do you have in your house?”
She replied, “Your servant has nothing there at all, except… except for this little bit of oil.” Now remember, in a cashless society… oil is as good as money. Oil could buy her freedom. But this little bit of oil… it wasn’t worth much. Really… it wasn’t worth anything. She says this is all I have, and I know it is nothing. I know… I’m nothing. Your servant… has nothing… nothing at all.
I Have Nothing
You know… I think I’ve heard that somewhere before. Perhaps I’ve said it. At the very least… I’ve thought it! Maybe you’ve said it. At the very least… maybe you’ve thought it! I have nothing… nothing at all. It seems that way for more and more people today as it becomes harder and harder to make ends meet. I would guess this about goes for everybody. In today’s economy, it is getting harder and harder to get ahead. In fact, it is becoming easier and easier to fall behind. So, even though we may be separated from this widow by thousands of years… we may find we have something in common with her today.