Reading: 1 Timothy 4:12-16
This is a wonderful passage for young people to read. Imagine that you are Timothy. You were raised by a Christian mother and grandmother, and you traveled and learned from the apostle Paul. You are now a young preacher in a congregation with many people older than you, who know the Jewish law better than you do.
Wouldn’t you be concerned about how you could influence people in the church? Have you ever been told that “you’re just too young” to do something?
Paul tells Timothy not to worry about that. Timothy has something very special: the Word of God. If Timothy would continue to study it and obey it, those around him would believe and be saved.
Timothy was concerned about what he could do for others – we should be as well. Isn’t there a lot of work for young people to do in God’s kingdom? You can pray that your example and teaching can have the same powerful effect on others!
Small Means and Great Ends is a collection of stories edited by Mrs. M.H. Adams published in 1851. The book may be read free online.
SMALL MEANS AND GREAT END (OR, THE WIDOW’S POT OF OIL)
“Oh! how I do wish I was rich!” said Eliza Melvyn, dropping her work in her lap, and looking up discontentedly to her mother; “why should not I be rich as well as Clara Payson? There she passes in her father’s carriage, with her fine clothes, and haughty ways; while I sit here–sew–sewing–all day long. I don’t see what use I am in the world!
“Why should it be so? Why should one person have bread to waste, while another is starving? Why should one sit idle all day, while another toils all night? Why should one have so many blessings, and another so few?”
“Eliza!” said Mrs. Melvyn, taking her daughter’s hand gently within her own, and pushing back the curls from her flushed brow, “my daughter, why is this? why is your usual contentment gone, and why are you so sinfully complaining? Have you forgotten to think that ‘God is ever good?'”
“No, mother,” replied the young girl, “but it sometimes appears strange to me, why he allows all these things.”
“Wiser people than either you or I have been led to wonder at these things,” said Mrs. Melvyn; “but the Christian sees in all the wisdom of God, who allows us to be tried here, and will overrule all for our good. The very person who is envied for one blessing perhaps envies another for one he does not possess. But why would you be rich, my child?”
“Mother, I went this morning through a narrow, dirty street in another part of the city. A group of ragged children were collected round one who was crying bitterly. I made my way through them and spoke to the little boy. He told me his little sister was dead, his father was sick, and he was hungry. Here was sorrow enough for any one; but the little boy stood there with his bare feet, his sunbleached hair and tattered clothes, and smiled almost cheerfully through the tears which washed white streaks amid the darkness of his dirty face. He led me to his home. Oh, mother! if you had been with me up those broken stairs, and seen the helpless beings in that dismal, dirty room you would have wished, like me, for the means to help them. The dead body lay there unburied, for the man said, they had no money to pay for a coffin. He was dying himself, and they might as well be buried together.”
“Are you sure, Eliza, that you have not the means to help them?” asked Mrs. Melvyn. “Put on your bonnet, my dear, and go to our sexton. Tell him to go and do what should be done. …Then call on Dr. —- the dispensary physician, and send him to the relief of the sick one. Then go to those of your acquaintance who have, as you say, ‘bread to waste,’ and mention to them this hungry little boy. If you have no money to give these sufferers, you have a voice to plead with those who have; and thus you may bless the poor, while you doubly bless the rich, for ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
Eliza obeyed, and when she returned several hours after, her face glowing with animation, and eagerly recounted how much had been done for the poor family; how their dead had been humanely borne from their sight; how the sick man was visited by the physician, and his bitterness of spirit removed by the sympathy which was sent him; how the room was to be cleaned and ventilated, and how she left the little boy eating a huge slice of bread, while others of the family were half devouring the remainder of the loaf; her mother listened with the same gentleness. “It is well, my daughter,” said she; “I preferred to send you on this errand of sympathy, that you might see how much you could do with small means.”
“I have a picture here,” she continued, “which I wish you to keep as a token of this day’s feelings and actions. It is called ‘The Widow’s Pot of Oil.’ Will you read me the story which belongs to it?”
Eliza took her little pocket Bible, the one that she always carried to [church], and, turning to the fourth chapter of the second book of Kings, read the first seven verses. Turn to them now, children, and read them.
“You can see in this picture,” said her mother, “how small was the ‘pot of oil,’ and how large were some of the vessels to be filled. Yet still it flowed on, a little stream; still knelt the widow in her faith, patiently supporting it; still brought her little sons the empty vessels; the blessing of God was upon it, and they were all filled. She feared not that the oil would cease to flow; she stopped not when one vessel was filled; she still believed, and labored, and waited, until her work was done.
“Take this picture, my daughter, and when you think that you cannot do good with small means, remember ‘the widow’s pot of oil,’ and perseveringly use the means you have; when one labor is done, begin another; stitch by stitch you have made this beautiful garment; very large houses are built of little bricks patiently joined together one by one; and ‘the widow’s small pot of oil’ filled many large vessels.”
“Oh, mother,” said Eliza, “I hope I shall never be so wicked again. I will keep the picture always…”
For Further Study:
- What kind of work did Peter, Andrew, James, and John do before they were disciples (Matthew 4:18-22)? What kind of work did Paul do (see Acts 18:1-3)? Can you think of other jobs that people had in the Bible, such as Moses, Daniel, and Lydia? Christ was thirty years old when He began His ministry – what kind of work did He do before then? Read Proverbs 10:1-5 and think about how work is related to wisdom.
- What kind of work do you want to do when you’re older? Think about yourself doing this work. What would show that you were a good worker? How could you bring glory to God while doing this work?