2 Kings 4:42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.
We’re not told the name of the man “from Baal-Shalishah” who offered to Elisha his “first fruits”. Nevertheless the story that unfolds is reminiscent of Jesus and his disciples feeding thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread. There are two things that jump out at me here:
- The man brought food “from the first fruits”. In other words he offered this food to Elisha before preparing anything for himself. It’s a way of giving thanks to the Lord who provided it in the first place. It’s the same principle we embrace as we practice the tithe.
- It seems the man only brought enough for Elisha, not for a crowd, so he balks at offering this relatively small amount of food to 100 people. Yet, at Elisha’s insistence, he did so anyway. There was enough for everyone – and even some left over. It was more than enough.
In the economy of this world the man would have been right. His gift to Elisha would not have been enough food for 100 people. But in God’s economy there is abundance rather than scarcity. Our God takes a little, our first fruits, and multiplies it so there is enough for everyone. And even a little bit more.
At the church I serve we are inviting of our people to prayerfully consider their giving for 2021. It can be a scary thing to grow in giving in the midst of a pandemic, when our economy is still very much in the healing process – no matter what the stock market says. Uncertainty can encourage us to pull back in giving rather than release our tithe (10% of our income) to the church and to the world. When we do this we are embracing “scarcity”. Scarcity is the mindset that there is only so much, so we’d better hold tight. Or else, we might not have enough for our own needs. It places the burden of provision on our own shoulders.
“Abundance”, by contrast, is the mindset that with God there is always enough. God, on whom rests the burden of our provision, takes our tithe and not only provides for our own need, but multiplies it to provide for others. In the economy of God both the giver and the recipient are blessed as we trust the Lord with our material resources.
If you’ve never trusted the Lord with a tithe of your income you really should try it. It can be scary at first, giving to God money you don’t think you have, but it’s so worth it. There’s great peace of mind knowing that, no matter what comes, the Lord will provide for your need and for the needs of others through you. Test the Lord and see what happens. You’ll be glad you did. Lord let it be so. Amen.