Mark Hall works in the wholesale grocery business in Houston. More importantly, he is one of the elders of my congregation and a great encouragement to me. He is married to Susan and they have three children. Mark's son, Jordan, was also a member of my mission trip to China last summer.
Matthew 6:33 (New King James Version)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
The first time I flew on a commercial airline, 30 plus years ago, I heard the spiel about the oxygen masks for the first time. Even today I remember a particular point that caught my attention. The point was that if the oxygen masks deploy and you are flying with small children, to first put your own mask on before putting your child’s mask on. Of course the point of that instruction is that for an adult to save the life of a child, the adult must first save their own life. This life saving instruction applies to our spiritual lives and the spiritual lives of the children in the family of God around us also.
I was reminded of the idea of taking care of first things first when doing my daily bible reading a few days ago and ran across the story in 1 Kings Chapter 17, about how God provided for Elijah the prophet.
There had been a famine and drought, and God had been providing for Elijah with a little brook of water and had ravens bring food for him. After some period of time the brook dried up and so God told Elijah to go seek out a widow, in a certain city, that would provide for him.
When Elijah reached the gate of the city he found the widow woman and asked her for a small cup of water, and the widow started off to get the drink he requested. As we will see in a moment the widow had plenty of her own troubles and yet wanted to take out time to get a drink for a stranger passing by. Before the widow got too far, Elijah added to his request, “also; bring me some bread to eat”. At this point the widow revealed the extent of her own problems. She had been out gathering sticks to make a fire to prepare her last handful of flour into the last meal that her and her son would have before starving to death.
And verse 13 is what got my attention –
1 Kings 17:13 (New King James Version)
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.
Elijah tells the widow to take a portion of her last handful of flour, make it into a cake for him to eat, and then, make some for herself and her son. Not only does he ask her to share her last meal, he asks her to serve him first. This is only appropriate because it was done at God’s direction. Verse 9 would indicate that the widow had instructions from God also, so she was looking for the opportunity to provide for one of God’s servants. There are those that would misuse this passage to teach that even the poor should take from their children to give to God. Getting back to the point; the widow through her faith in God, fulfilled her duty to God first and then God blessed her by allowing her to not only take care of her and her son’s need for that day but for many days after.
I see families sometimes that think of ‘church’ as a good thing for their children and yet don’t take measures to take care of their own spiritual lives. In reality, if a parent wants to provide for their children’s spiritual well being, the best way to do that is to take care of their own spiritual well being, and then they will be equipped to provide for their children. Through saving their own spiritual lives, they will have the opportunity to save the spiritual lives of their children also.