“And Not A Few” ( 2 Kings 4: 3, ESV ) by Carley Evans

A widow of one of the sons of the prophets calls out to Elisha, telling him “that the creditor has come to take [her] two children to be slaves” since she is unable to pay her debts. (2 Kings 4:1) Elisha seems to rhetorically ask, “What shall I do for you?” then comes up with an answer immediately. He asks the widow what she has in her house. She says, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” (2 Kings 4:2)

She has nothing. Yet, she has something.

Elisha tells her to go to her neighbors and “borrow vessels, empty vessels and not too few.” She complies. Elisha tells her to also go inside, shut her door “behind [herself] and [her] sons and pour into all these vessels” the oil from the one jar she still has in her house. She continues pouring oil from the jar, filling each vessel until her sons have no more vessels to bring to her. At this point, the oil from the jar stops flowing.

The only limit to the flow of oil is how many empty vessels she has borrowed. Hence, Elisha’s advice: Borrow “not too few.” She has nothing. Yet, she has something. Now she has more than enough. Yet, there is potential for even more.

The widow tells Elisha that she has no more vessels to fill, that the oil has stopped flowing. He tells her to sell the oil and pay her debts, “and you and your sons can live on the rest.” (2 Kings 4:7)

She has nothing. Yet, she has something. Then she has more than enough. Now, she has everything she needs, both for herself and her sons.

Suppose she gave any oil to her neighbors when she returned their once-empty vessels?

“Mercy Put Into Your Lap” (Matthew 18: 33, ESV) by Carley Evans

Jesus tells a parable of a man settling accounts with his servants. One of his servants owes him a substantial amount of money; the man decides to sell him, his wife, his children in order to settle the debt once and for all. The poor man falls on his knees and begs his master to spare him. “And out of pity for him, the master of that servant releases him and forgives him the debt.” (Matthew 18: 27)

Jesus does not mention whether this servant is grateful. Apparently, he is not for he goes out, finds a servant of the same master, begins to choke him, demanding a considerably lesser amount of money owed to him. The man he is choking falls at his feet, begs him: “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” (Matthew 18: 29) Instead of having patience, his fellow servant throws him in jail until the debt is paid.

The other servants, of course, tell the master of this lack of mercy, of this unwillingness to forgive.

The master is angry. He throws the servant into jail, demanding repayment of the debt he had forgiven.

“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3: 13)

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6: 37 – 38)

Have mercy and mercy will be put into your lap.