(The Single Woman Series – Batch 4)
This morning, I was reading the story about the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4 and it dawned on me, that some of the best gifts, God gives to those who gave selflessly, sacrificially and genuinely, in willing service to others, without any expectation of any kind of reward and without any ulterior motives.
Let’s be real. People give for many reasons, not all of them noble. Some give to get back, like those who sow a so-called ‘financial seed’, expecting God to repay them financially with even more than they gave or to at least provide them with some other kind of benefit. Their reason for giving is therefore selfish and self-centred, as they see it as an opportunity to invest in themselves and to get ahead.
Some give so as to compete with other persons who gave or are giving or to craft and maintain a positive image for themselves, in the eyes of others. They do it for show so that others will think that they are kind, spiritual, selfless and be in awe of them.
Some even give out of a wicked heart, so as to make others feel bad, guilty or less spiritual than them because they have not given in like manner or as much, possibly because they can’t afford to do so at the moment or they don’t feel led to do so as the moment.
Some give to others, expecting that the persons who they give to, will return the favour and if they don’t, the real reason why they gave becomes manifest, as they get angry.
Some people give in order to be popular or to fit in with what they see others doing. Others do it so that they can receive attention, a heap of praise for the ‘good deed’ that they have done or in pride, to showcase some talent that God has given to them.
I actually know of two women, who often insist on cooking meals for others but get very upset and angry with the recipients when they don’t commend them and comment on how tasty the food was. This reveals the real reason why they gave, not out of genuine concern for the persons they gave to and their situation but out of a desire to promote self and to glorify self.
I have particularly taken note of people who disregard your wishes, insist on giving something to you or doing something for you, when they know you don’t really want or need them to, then get upset if you don’t show appreciation for what they have done or shower them with gratitude or think of them as super special and nice for what they have done.
Giving for many is therefore a tool that is used to manipulate situations, people and in their warped minds, even God.
Yet, in 2 Corinthians 9:7, it tells us that it is those that give cheerfully that find favour with God. To give cheerfully involves giving voluntarily, without thought about self or what self will get out of it or how self can benefit.
In fact, the Bible consists of valuable examples of people who gave cheerfully, selflessly, sacrificially and in genuine, willing service to others and to God, without any thought for themselves and with no ulterior motives. In turn, God rewarded them bountifully, more than they could have ever imagined or thought that he would do.
Take the SHUNAMMITE WOMAN for starters.
When Elisha the Prophet had occasion to pass through Shunem on a particular day, she insisted that he eat a meal from her home. She did not stop there. Whenever he continued to pass through that area, she opened up the doors of her home to him in hospitality, so that he could partake of a meal. She had no ulterior motive for doing it. She simply wanted to provide him with a meal, out of the goodness of her heart.
As if such hospitality was not enough, she went further and consulted with her husband, suggesting to him that they should build an additional room to their home, so that when Elisha passed that way, he would not just be able to eat at their table and then leave on his journey but could have a place to rest his head a while.
They did just that and although she did not expect it, the Prophet pronounced a blessing on her in terms of a need that she and her husband had, which only God could provide. She and her husband had been without children seemingly for years due to barrenness and although she never told Elisha this, in seeking to reward her for her kindness, God allowed Elisha’s servant Gehazi to realize that the couple had no children.
As a result, Elisha told her that she would have a child by that time of the next year and that is exactly what happened. God opened up her womb, gave her conception and she delivered of a son by the next year, around the same time. (2 Kings 4:8-17 KJV)
God also rewarded REBEKAH, who had a heart of selfless service.
When she went to the well to draw water and saw a stranger there, she never thought that in her extending kindness to him and willingly drawing water for him and all his camels (which was a lot of work), that this would result in her marriage to Isaac, the most eligible bachelor at that time, in the world, a man upon whose life God’s promise was and who would inherit Abraham’s wealth.
Rebekah did not know when Abraham’s servant saw her at the well and asked for a drink of water, that this man was Abraham’s servant and had just prayed to the Lord to make his way prosperous in the selection of a quality bride for his Master’s son Isaac. She did not know that he had specifically asked God to provide a woman that would agree, not just to draw water for him but for his camels as well. He therefore placed high value on a woman that was selfless, giving and had a heart of service, without any ulterior motive.
Rebekah did not consider herself or how much work it would take to draw water, not just for this man but for all his camels. She did not consider how she would benefit and did not hesitate to help. She drew the water willingly, cheerfully, gladly, even as the man looked on and continued to observe her, not knowing that at the end of it, she would receive valuable jewels and the hand of a valuable, high quality man in marriage. (Genesis 24:1-53 KJV)
Ironically, one day Rebekah selflessly worked to give water to ten (10) camels and the next, it appears that it was one of those same camels that she rode on, to get to her husband Isaac. She served that camel with water and that same camel then served her by transporting her to Isaac.
Genesis 24: 61-67 states:
- “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her…” (Genesis 24:61-67 KJV)
RUTH is also worthy of being mentioned here.
She had had a hard life, full of misfortune. Her husband had died while she was still young and before she had borne any children. She and her sister-in-law and mother-in-law were dirt poor, as they too had lost their spouses. Going back to Moab where she had been raised, may have seemed to be the logical thing to do then. After all, she would be in her father’s house where she would be provided for and among her own people. There was also the possibility that some Moabite man would still marry her, although she was a widow.
However, unlike Orpah who decided to return to Moab where the grass certainly seemed to be greener, Ruth made the selfless decision to stay with her mother-in-law and to go to Israel with her. She had absolutely nothing to gain from this and in fact, she knew that this path would most likely lead to one of hardship. Not only was she and her mother-in-law without the protection and provision of a man (which was major in those days) but she Ruth was also likely to be ostracized, looked down at, rejected and even abused, as she was a Moabite, people that the Israelites scorned and had been commanded by God not to allow to enter into their congregation up to the tenth generation.
Despite the infamy of the people that she had come from and what this might mean in Israel and the fact that only a life of poverty and hardship seemed to await her, Ruth still decided selflessly, not to abandon her mother-in-law but to go with her wherever she went and to serve the God of Israel.
She did this out of love for her mother-in-law and seemingly, to help her share the burden of poverty. When she arrived in Israel, she then selflessly informed her mother-in-law that she would go out in search for food for them to eat and she did just that. She went out into a field to pick up the corn that the harvesters dropped, risked her very safety (as she could have been attacked in the field by a man) and did this for hours without rest.
To bend one’s back to pick up corn wherever it may have been left, would not have been easy but Ruth did it without complaining. She accepted that she was poor and she was mindful that, unless she found food, not only was it likely that she would starve from hunger but also her mother-in-law.
As a result of the series of her selfless actions, God allowed the owner of the field, a wealthy and godly man, to visit that very field on the very day that she was working. He also allowed his eyes to notice her and caused him to enquire about her and the rest is history. Ruth got married to Boaz, one of the most eligible bachelors back then and she would have never gotten to that place, if it had not been for her selfless, sacrificial actions.
Her legacy lived on, for she bore a son Obed, from that marriage, was the great grandmother of the second king of Israel, king David and this was the lineage that God later used to send forth his Son Jesus Christ. (Ruth 1-4 KJV)
(Written on 28th March, 2020)