Me . . . First

I Kings 17:8-16 “And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord , which he spake by Elijah.”

Upon arriving at Zarephath, Elijah is met by a widow gathering sticks to prepare, what she thinks is to be her last meal. After hearing her plan for the day, Elijah responded by saying, “me . . . first” (vs.13). At first glance Elijah’s response appears to be very callous and selfish in nature! Truth is; Elijah is setting forth a principle that will not only meet the widow’s need for the day, but for the future. There is nothing wrong with the widow’s plan, just her priority. Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). There was nothing wrong with the daily task of working and preparing for the daily necessities of life; the problem is, who comes first?  Elijah is not asking her to alter her plan, but rather her priorities! Elijah is not asking her to succumb to the wishes of men, but to submit to the word of the Master; “I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (vs.9). Where in lies the problem with most of our lives; we have satisfactory plans, but sorry priorities! Is it any wonder why we, like this widow, are continually faced with the repetitive struggles of daily living? There is nothing wrong with having a job, owning a car, pursuing a hobby, raising a family, or having a desire to better oneself; God is in no way against your plan, but He may be in opposition to your priority! The truth is the woman never changed her plan, she repetitively pursued the daily necessities of life; she just changed her priority. With the same plan, but a different priority, “she, and he, and her house, did eat many days” (vs.15). God said, “Me First!”

Is God first with respect to relationships, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). Paul does not want an education; he wants an experiential relationship with “The True and Living God.” David shares this passion when he said, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). One of the things  destroying the effectiveness of the church is the acceptance of religion at the expense of a relationship! Religion can survive on a two hour service once a week, but not a relationship! If we are going to obtain the title, “Friend of God” (see James 2:23), it is going to require some time spent in a relationship. My wife would have a far better husband, if my relationship with Christ was my number one priority!

Is God first with respect to resources, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Speaking of the “tithe” in the book of Leviticus, the Word of God said, “it is holy unto the Lord” (27:30). Some are prone to say, “I can’t afford to tithe!” The truth of matter is this poor widow who was responsible for the welfare of a young child couldn’t afford not to put God first! While He is entitled all, through the lips of the prophet He only asked for a portion, “a morsel of bread” (vs.11). God honored her faithfulness and turned a portion of a diminishing supply into a perpetual dependable supply; “she, and he, and her house, did eat many days” (vs.15). If I understand what has transpired, God took what was to be a last meal for a widow and her son, and stretched it so that three people ate three meals a day for one whole year! I’d say that’s a pretty good return. A perishing supply becomes a perpetual supply; not because the widow altered her plan, but rather her priorities! Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).

The lives of three people and the history of a nation were altered; not because a poor widow woman changed her plans, but because she changed her priorities! She got up one morning, went out to gather firewood to provide a meal for her family; only this time she put God first and because of that choice, what was to be a last meal became a lasting meal. God allowed her to work her plan three times a day for an entire year because she was faithful to His Word. God said, “Me First!”