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A dramatic story of sacrificial generosity is narrated in the Bible. The scene is ancient Palestine. A drought had left people in a town off the coast of the Mediterranean impoverished. Along comes Elijah, a biblical prophet, and asks the woman to quench his thirst, and provide some food for him. This request was unthinkable. How could this “so called” messenger of God require that one so poor, and in fact, emaciated from starvation, give her last meal. Surely he would have been more discerning. Elijah quite aware of the woman’s plight was not bashful, but instead challenged her to be generous.
This is because generosity is shown in the bible to release God’s miraculous provision, and Elijah was well aware of this.
Another biblical story that comes to mind is that of the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). The disciples of Jesus were commanded to feed a burgeoning crowd that numbered around 5000 men, (meaning in actuality the crowd was 15,000 factoring women and children.). The disciples found nothing but a boy with some food that may have been his lunch. This lunch consisted of five fish and two loaves. Again they did the unthinkable: They gave this mere morsel of food to Christ as if expecting he would do something with it.
In both stories, we see the miracle that occurs. The widow gave her last meal to Elijah, and found out her pantry full. She now had more than enough provision, that she supported her entire household with. The flour and oil did not run dry, indicating she could bake continually and thus have food as long as they needed. Likewise, the story of the boy in the feeding of the 5000 is one of supernatural provision. For as the disciples distributed the bread and fish, it multiplied. The increase was so much that they had 12 baskets left over.
You may be wondering why don’t you see supernatural returns when you are generous? (Before I answer, I do want to qualify that I don’t believe returns on giving are mechanical or automatic, like a one to one, investment opportunity. The harvest we receive may be different from what we expect because of this factor. Also I believe sometimes returns are spiritual, and could be prolonged, such that the harvest is not seen for a while, or even seen in another generation. )
The first reason I will give is that you may not be truly giving sacrificially. Sometimes we give out of our convenience not out of a genuine sacrificial heart. The characters in our story both gave sacrificially. It was all they had to give. God may not be calling you to give all that you have, but he is definitely asking you to be sacrificial. In an age of materialism (particularly in the western world) it is amazing how so many Christian simply give out of convenience or necessity, and not as a sacrificial gift to the Lord.
A second answer is that the Lord has not commanded you to give. In our two narratives, we see that it was God that asked Elijah to speak to the widow and it was Jesus that asked the disciples to provide food. If God commands a gift, then it qualifies for miraculous increase. However, if we give out of obligation or even proactively in order to alleviate necessary human needs, it may not qualify as a gift to God.
Finally, another factor that steals our harvest is simply that we don’t give in faith, thus we have no expectation of a harevest. The widow expected something to happen, and thus she gave Elijah her last meal. Also I believe, the disciples expected a miracle, thus they took the time to organize the crowd and divide the food. It is takes faith in a supernatural God to see miracles happen. After all God has said, when we give, our gifts will multiply much like when a farmer sows seeds.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10.) So just as the farmer sows seeds expectantly, we ought also to be expectant givers.
Giving thus can be a miraculous thing. In particular, as we seek to hear God’s command, set aside our funds sacrificially and anticipate Gods hand in our lives, we will see increase in every area of our lives, and definitely including our finances.
– Pastor Olu Jegede