The widow at Zarephath was so poor that all she had was a handful of flour and a little oil. She could not even sustain her own life. But it was at this time that God began to open His windows of grace. The Lord arranged for her to supply His prophet Elijah with subsistence. The Lord commanded the widow to give priority to this task over her own problems, and she obeyed.
If the widow was unloving and unwilling to receive the prophet, God could have moved others to provide, just as He commanded ravens to feed Elijah. Thankfully, the widow grasped this rare opportunity and received Elijah with sincerity. She did not forsake the prophet, nor did she worry about food for the next day.
Like the widow of Zarephath, the church in Macedonia showed grace in giving while it was very poor by helping the saints in Jerusalem. They were like the poor widow who offered two small coins—more valuable than others because they were all she had. Some fellow brothers and sisters say that if God were to bless them and give them wealth, they would zealously offer without the stinginess with which others give. This is certainly not a healthy attitude in giving. God expects us to discharge our duties in giving even while we are poor. Moreover, we should give to Him who first gave to us; only then can we leave a portion for ourselves. We do not have to wait till we are rich to give. Just like the poor widow at Zarephath, we should learn to give up some of our priorities for God first and let Him take care of the rest.
Those who will not give unless they become rich will probably not contribute much even when they are rich, for they harbor a selfish attitude. On the contrary, those who are willing to give while still poor will probably still strive to give once they have become rich. Of course, even though this may seem theoretically sound, we must not over-generalize. The principle is that we must harbor a correct attitude toward giving to God—one that does not expect anything in return. Experience tells us that devout people with a self-sacrificing attitude often receive God's grace. For with what we give, God's grace gives more. We can all experience this grace today.