Bible Reading: 1 Kings 17
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
When reading through the Beatitudes, some of the teachings of Jesus tend to jump out. Write at the start, the very first Beatitude seems unusual and, to be honest, undesirable. Who wants to be poor in any sense of the word? Especially when it relates to your own spirit, being poor is something that does not seem enjoyable. Yet Jesus says that those who are poor in spirit will be blessed to dwell in the kingdom of heaven.
Many of us are familiar with the story of the prophet Elijah. He appears to the wicked King Ahab and foretells of a three-and-a-half-year drought, and then he flees to live in the wilderness. 1 Kings 17 details all of these beginning stories of Elijah’s adventure, but Elijah is not the focus of this blog post. Instead, I want us to look at the Widow of Zarephath. This woman is left to care for her son, and life has not been easy. She is a single mother, which at this time in history made life very difficult, if not impossible without help. She has nobody and nothing when we meet her, expect for just enough oil and flour to make a small cake. After this meal, the widow plans for her and her son to starve to death.
It is in the midst of this anxious and horrifying time that Elijah wanders into her life, and asks her for all she has left, the small cake. This widow, who is poor in body and in spirit, does as Elijah asks, and shares the small cake with him. Her generosity is startling, to me anyways. Even though she was poor in spirit, evidenced by accepting her fate to death, she still was willing to show kindness to a stranger and foreigner. God blesses this widow and her son greatly as a result of her kindness. We do not know how the widow’s life goes once Elijah leaves her home, but for this time, we see one who is poor in spirit be greatly blessed by God.
Application: Elijah is undoubtedly the main character of this story, but this widow has much to teach us as well. None of us desires to be in such a desperate and dark place in life as she was, but most circumstances are out of our control. However hard life may become or how dark a situation may be, we can control how we respond during it. This widow, though poor in spirit, chose love and kindness. May we too choose love when hate is easier. As we spend more time as children of God, we should be growing and developing the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ chooses love and kindness when the spirit is feeling low and poor. May God’s Spirit work in us and through us to walk in God’s blessings, even when we are feeling poor in our own spirits.