The story of the widow’s oil in 2 Kings 4 is one of my favorites. It tells the story of a woman who went to Elisha for help. The woman was the widow of a prophet and she was being hounded by a creditor. In Elisha’s time, debtors were often forced to sell themselves or their children as slaves to pay off their debts, and the widow was worried that the creditor was coming for her sons.
In verse 2, Elisha asked her two questions, How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Her reply is “Your servant has nothing there at all, except a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 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.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 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. 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.”
So what can we learn from this story? We learn the obvious lesson that God can multiply resources exponentially. This in itself is a great message, but there is also another less obvious lesson here.
If you have a need, God often multiplies what you present Him, but you won’t give Him what you don’t know is there. And if you don’t have faith, you will say to God that there’s nothing in you, The number of empty jars the woman collected from her neighbors was directly related to her faith. If the woman had any doubts about whether or not God was going to bless her, she would not have collected many empty jars. She would not waste her time and energy collecting jars if she did not believe they would be filled. On the other hand, if she truly believed that God was going to continue filling the jars until they were all full, she would have searched high and low to collect as many jars as possible.
Everyone has something, but not everyone will hand it over to God. God can work with a little something, but if you don’t give Him something, He cannot multiply what you’re saying is not there.
Just like Elisha used the empty jars, God wants us to be his empty jar so that he can fill us with the Holy Spirit to reach out to others. If you want to be an empty jar for God, you must do a few things. You must allow God to empty you of all the baggage you’ve been carrying around inside; all that hate and anger, the bitterness toward your enemies and those who have hurt you. You have to confess to your sins and repent. You must be saved. To be an empty jar for God, you must have the faith to humbly come to Him, present Him with whatever it is He’s given you, big or small, and trust Him when He tells you what to do with it. You tell God, “I don’t have much Lord, but I give it to you to do with as you will.”
Once you are saved and empty, you have to see that God has deposited His Spirit inside you in the form of a gift. This gift is not meant to just sit there inside you. It must be poured out and multiplied to help other people. As you pour out this gift into others, God will refill you so you can pour it out to more people. When you want your gift to benefit yourself, you keep it to yourself, and you remain full. And when you stop pouring, God stops refilling you.
The question is will you allow God to make you his empty jar