In the fourth chapter of the book of 2nd Kings, we read about a widow who had a creditor coming to take her sons away to pay off her late husband’s debts. Desperate, she appealed to Elisha the prophet for help. When he asked her what she had in the house, she replied she only had a little oil. Elisha instructed her to go to her neighbors and ask them for jars and “don’t ask for just a few.” He told her to fill the jars with the oil she had in the house. Miraculously, the oil kept flowing out of her jar into the other jars as she poured. In verse seven, she told Elisha she filled all the jars she collected and that the oil had stopped flowing. Elisha then said to her, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
I have heard some preachers use this as an example of limiting God by our faith. For instance, if she collected more jars, the oil would have continued to flow. They say that by our “lack of faith” we limit God’s blessings on us. But I don’t see this as a lack of faith or a limitation of her prosperity. I see this as God testing her faith, using her to meet a need, then making up for her shortcomings. God blessed her so that she not only had her husband’s debts paid, but she also had enough oil for her and her two sons to live on. God took an impossible situation, using what little she had to offer, and had her step out in faith - instructing her to ask her neighbors for jars. She was obedient and did what she was asked to do. It took faith on her part to go and ask her neighbors for these jars, especially knowing that she did not have anything to put into them. She was trusting God to meet her needs. And He did. God not only met her immediate need, but He also blessed her so that she and her two sons could live on the remaining proceeds until they could financially support her.
This account is very similar to the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand in Matthew 14. A young boy brought his lunch to Jesus when he heard there was a need for food. Certainly, that boy knew his lunch would not feed many people – it was intended just for him. Yet, he somehow knew that Jesus could take that lunch and use it to meet a need. God can take what little we have and use it for His glory.
God knows we have limitations. He knows sometimes we struggle in our faith. He knows we are flawed beings. Yet, He chooses to love us and to use us despite these limitations. Don’t focus on what you are not; focus on Who you serve. You are a child of the King and a blood-bought follower of Jesus Christ. We cannot let our shortcomings prevent us from stepping out in faith and being used by God. He will make up for our failings. He is not looking for perfect people; He is only looking for willing servants. Philippians 4:13 says it all: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”