Introduction: This week my righteous wife told me that she did not
want me to buy her anything for Christmas. Instead, she wanted me to
give the money for her gift to a charity. My immediate thought was
“I need to do that, too.” Then I began to struggle with the
decision. How about you? Do you struggle with selfishness? I’ll
bet right now you are asking, is it selfishness to accept gifts at
Christmas? Good question! Perhaps the answer has to do with whether
your needs are already met. What about helping others when your
needs are not met? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see
what we can learn about real selflessness!

  1. The Drought

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:1-4. If God can stop the rain from
      falling, can He provide for those who follow Him?

      1. The answer is obviously, “yes.” So, why should we
        have to provide for God’s followers?

    2. Read 1 Kings 17:7-9. Should Elijah have thought that God
      failed him when the brook dried up?

      1. Why did God let it dry up?

      2. From where will Elijah’s next meal come? (He is to
        move outside the country. There he will be fed by a

    3. Read 1 Kings 17:10-12. Put yourself in the place of this
      widow. Would you put the needs of an alien and stranger
      before those of your son or yourself?

      1. Does the widow have a moral obligation to give her
        son food before she gives it to an adult who is a

      2. I called Elijah a “stranger.” What does the fact
        that the widow recognizes Elijah as a follower of
        “your God” suggest?

        1. Do you recall that God told Elijah (v. 9)that
          He had already worked out the feeding
          arrangement with a widow? Do you think that the
          widow had advance knowledge of Elijah?

          1. If God had worked out a “feeding
            arrangement” with the widow, how do you
            account for her statement that she thought
            her family would die?

      3. What do you think of God’s plan – to have a starving
        widow and her son be the means by which God’s
        prophet is fed?

        1. Let’s assume that you are the last person in
          the church qualified to do a certain task. When
          the church asks you to do this task, should you
          turn it down?

  1. The Test

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:13-14. What is being asked of this widow?
      (To give up a certain meal for the promise of sufficient
      food in the future.)

      1. How would you have reacted? Would you say that a
        widow and her child should eat before the prophet?

      2. Would you say that seeking food from a starving
        widow and child is illogical – Elijah should go to
        someone who is in a better position to help?

      3. Would you say that a servant leader should logically
        eat last?

      4. Would you have noted (from last week’s lesson) that
        prophets sometimes lie, and this one has a powerful
        reason to lie to you?

      5. Does God ask us to give up what is certain in
        exchange for a promise of something greater?

    2. Read 1 Kings 17:15-16. What is the result of this widow’s
      faith? (She and her son have life!)

    3. I once got myself into a terrible mess when a two members
      of the church were involved in divorce and child custody
      proceedings. One member-spouse showed me some legal
      documents (interrogatories) from the other member-spouse
      which asked whether the one believed in paying tithe
      before paying the electric bill. How would you answer
      this interrogatory? (Answering that you would pay tithe
      first would (presumably) show that you were an unfit
      parent. I agreed to be a witness for the parent who
      would pay tithe first.)

    4. Read Luke 4:23-26. If your local pastor came to you with
      the proposal made by Elijah, would you accept it?

      1. Or, would you tell your pastor to pray for more meal
        and oil first? (Jesus suggests that sometimes His
        followers are more reluctant to walk by faith when
        it comes to people they know.)

        1. Do we sometimes discount the ways and practices
          of our own church simply because we are used to

  2. The Reward of Faith

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:17. God saved this boy from starvation
      because of the faith of his mother. Why, after all that,
      would God now let the boy die?

    2. Read 1 Kings 17:18. Who does the widow blame for the
      death of her son? (First, herself. Then Elijah and then

      1. “Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my
        son?” Is that how we react when something bad
        happens to us?

      2. Is God is in the business of reminding us of our
        sins and punishing our children? (Compare Exodus
        20:5-6 with Revelation 12:10 with John 16:7-11 and
        with Ezekiel 18:20. While these texts show that God
        does convict us of our sins, it is the work of Satan
        to remind and accuse us of forgiven sin. Apparently
        God in some way punishes the children of those who
        hate Him, but He promises that we only die for our
        own sins. Thus, the widow was accusing God of things
        He does not do.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 17:19-20. What accusation does God’s prophet
      bring against God?

      1. Step back for a moment and put yourself in God’s
        place. How would you like all of these terrible
        accusations flying your way?

        1. Are they true?

    4. Read 1 Kings 17:21. Does Elijah think that he is more
      just and loving than God? (Yes. That is exactly what his
      statement and his words suggest. We need to remember in
      times of distress that God gave His life for us. He died
      in a very painful way to take the punishment that we
      deserve. If we sometimes think that we are more loving or
      more fair than God – we are wrong and we are defaming

    5. Read 1 Kings 17:22-23. Put yourself in God’s place again.
      The mother has accused you of killing her son. Your
      prophet has said essentially the same thing. How would
      you react to the request to heal the boy given the
      charges made against you?

      1. Shouldn’t God get tired of proving Himself to His
        wretched creation?

      2. I titled this section “The Reward of Faith.” Is that
        anywhere close to the truth? (I think that God is
        less troubled than we would be about name-calling.
        Reason being that name-calling reflects the faith
        that God is in charge. What God hates is when we
        ignore Him or believe that He has no authority or
        power on earth.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 17:24. What do you think about this

      1. Recall that this is a woman who, with her son, was
        saved from starvation by her act of faith and a
        miracle of God!

    7. Friend, our study reminds us of our human condition.
      Sometimes we are capable of great acts of faith. Then
      after God has shown His power to us so clearly, at the
      next crisis we doubt Him and accuse Him of the worst
      things. Will you take a moment right now, and think about
      the times when God clearly led and blessed you? Will you
      pledge, right now, to never forget what God has done and
      never doubt Him in the future?

  3. Next week: Gehazi: Missing the Mark.