Being Faithful In So Little


One very stormy night an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel. They asked for a room. But there was none for them. But the clerk took pity on them. He said, “I can’t send a fine couple like you out in the rain. Would you be willing to sleep in my room?” The couple hesitated but the clerk insisted.

The next morning, the man said to the clerk, “You’re the kind of man who should be managing the best hotel in the United States. Someday I’ll build you one.” The clerk just smiled politely.

A few years later the clerk got a letter from the elderly man. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. He asked the clerk to come to New York. When the clerk arrived, the elderly man brought him to a magnificent new building. Then he said to the clerk, “That is the hotel I have built for you to manage.” The elderly man was William Waldorf Astor, and the hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria. The young clerk was George C. Boldt, the first manager of the hotel.
[1]

Our Lord Jesus once said, “Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters.” (Luke 16:10)
[2] George Boldt was faithful in the least. That’s why he was trusted with much.

Now there’s a widow in the Old Testament who opened her home to a prophet. God did not bless her with a hotel to manage. But because of her faithfulness God preserved her life and her son’s life.

Let’s read 1 Kings 17:8-16 together…

The LORD told Elijah, “Go to the town of Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I’ve told a widow in that town to give you food.” When Elijah came near the town gate of Zarephath, he saw a widow gathering sticks for a fire. “Would you please bring me a cup of water?” he asked. As she left to get it, he asked, “Would you also please bring me a piece of bread?” The widow answered, “In the name of the living LORD your God, I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour and a little olive oil. I’m on my way home now with these few sticks to cook what I have for my son and me. After that, we will starve to death.” Elijah said, “Everything will be fine. Do what you said. Go home and fix something for you and your son. But first, please make a small piece of bread and bring it to me. The LORD God of Israel has promised that your jar of flour won't run out and your bottle of oil won't dry up before he sends rain for the crops.” The widow went home and did exactly what Elijah had told her. She and Elijah and her family had enough food for a long time. The LORD kept the promise that his prophet Elijah had made, and she did not run out of flour or oil.

The prophet Elijah declared to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel that God judged Israel because they worshipped idols. God sent a severe drought. Then He sent Elijah to hide in a place near a stream, which became his source of water. There the Lord sent ravens to bring food to the prophet. When the stream dried up, God told him to go and meet the widow.

We don’t know her name. But we will learn from her example how to become faithful in little so that the Lord may find us faithful in much.

Someone suggested that, due to the drought, life was a day-to-day struggle for food for most people. Every morning they get up and go to work. Then at the end of the day, when they got paid, they buy food at the market, just enough for the day. It was a hand-to-mouth life. Widows were poorer than the poorest at that time.

Yet here we clearly see God’s hand at work. The queen at that time was Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Sidon. She was evil to the core. She was the reason why Israel left God and turned to idols. Elijah was number one in her most wanted list. She wanted to kill him. Where did God tell Elijah to go? God brought Elijah under the very nose of his enemy, in the town of Zarephath in Sidon. But God protected him.

Then God sent Elijah to a widow. According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Widows normally ran out of food first in a famine. Therefore going to a widow for food was a strange directive.”

God assured Elijah, “I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” (NIV) Note the word “commanded.” If you would read the context, the widow was not aware that Elijah was coming. But God affirmed that He will use her as a channel to provide for the prophet’s needs.

To become faithful in small things, WE MUST SENSE GOD’S HAND IN OUR LIVES.

When the widow went out that day, she was so depressed. She only has a handful of flour and a little oil. She had a little boy to feed. She gathered sticks to cook their last meal. She had no idea that God “commanded” or influenced her to gather firewood. That God had set an appointment for her to meet the prophet. In Proverbs 21:1, it says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” The Lord controlled her as He pleased.

That’s why we must faithfully obey God. We must be faithful in little things for we don’t know what God has in store for us. We may not understand God’s ways. But we can surely trust that He knows what’s good for us.

Note also that when Elijah asked for a cup of water, she immediately went to get one for him. Remember that there was drought. Water was so scarce. She could be standing in a long line just to get a cup of water. She was willing to serve people even if she has so many concerns of her own. She did not use it as an excuse. She was faithful in so little. That’s why God blessed her.

Then Elijah asked for bread. Now she answered, “In the name of the living LORD your God, I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour and a little olive oil. I’m on my way home now with these few sticks to cook what I have for my son and me. After that, we will starve to death.” Imagine her surprise when Elijah promised her that her jar of flour won’t run out and her bottle of oil won’t dry up until God sends the rain.

But here comes the test. She must first make a small piece of bread for Elijah. Then whatever is left with her flour and oil, she would then make bread for herself and her son. Elijah asked her to make a step of faith. If you were the widow, what would you do?

The Bible says she “did exactly what Elijah had told her.” Then and only then did God bless her.
It says, “She and Elijah and her family had enough food for a long time. The LORD kept the promise that his prophet Elijah had made, and she did not run out of flour or oil.”

To become faithful in small things, WE MUST SERVE GOD WITH WHATEVER WE HAVE.

To be faithful in small things means serving God and doing the right things even if people doesn’t appreciate what we are doing. You may not be preaching up front. You may not be serving as one of the leaders of this church. You may be doing just menial tasks. Maybe you wanted to do more. But you have limited strength or time or ability or financial means. But you did whatever you could do. You followed what the Bible commanded us to do: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might”. (Ecclesiastes 9:10, Modern King James Version)

God knows your heart. He sees your efforts. And He will reward you for your faithfulness. So if God leads you to do something, do it for His glory even if it is just a small task. Who knows? God may be preparing you for something big.

When my wife Ellen lost her left arm in an accident, she did not blame God. She did not despair. She sought to learn how to do things with one hand, things that we normally do with two hands. And now she can do it better and even faster.

To become faithful in small things, WE MUST SENSE GOD’S HAND IN OUR LIVES.

To become faithful in small things, WE MUST SERVE GOD WITH WHATEVER WE HAVE.

Let us pray…


[1] Story from the Biblical Studies Foundation. http://www.bible.org/illus.asp?topic_id=528
[2] Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture references are from the Contemporary English Version.

Note: Pastor Cortez preached this sermon (with Chinese translation) to the Women's Fellowship of MGC last July 21, 2005.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

“Ubus-ubos Biyaya, Bukas Nakatunganga”

“Racy Religion”

Things We Christians Can Do To Help Our Country (Part 3)