Faith's Warrant: "Borrow Not a Few"

2 Kings 4:1‑7  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
These words were uttered by the prophet Elisha in the ear of a distressed widow who had come to him with her tale of sorrow. And assuredly the words of God's prophet did but express the grace of the prophet's God. He knew well on whose behalf he was speaking—on whose grace he was counting—on whose treasury he was drawing. He did not say, "Take care you do not borrow too many." He knew this was impossible. Faith never yet overdrew its account in God's bank. It has "unsearchable riches" to its credit there. Faith never yet brought an empty vessel to God that He had not oil to fill. In the case of this widow, the oil only ceased to flow when there was no longer an empty vessel to receive it. The source was exhaustless; it was faith's promise to keep the channel open. It is the business of faith to "open thy mouth wide"; God's part is to "fill it." We cannot expect too largely from God.
Dear Christian reader, let the remembrance of these things have the happy effect of encouraging your heart in the life of faith. Think of these precious words: "Borrow not a few." They come to you direct from your Father's heart of tender love. He wants you to draw largely upon His infinite resources. You cannot possibly expect too much from the hand and heart of Jesus.
Is your heart disturbed by the sense—the painful and humiliating sense—of indwelling sin? "Go, borrow thee vessels... even empty vessels" in which to receive the rich supplies of grace that flow from a crucified and risen Christ—your Surety—your Advocate—your great High Priest. And bear in mind those divinely liberal words, "Borrow not a few." Jesus has borne all your sins upon the cross, and put them away forever. The eye of God can never see your sins again. He has cast them all behind His back. He has actually reaped a harvest of glory by putting them away. Divine grace has reaped a richer harvest in the midst of a world of sinners than ever it could have reaped amidst the host of unfallen angels. "Go," therefore, "borrow... vessels... empty vessels;... not a few."
Again, is your poor heart bowed down beneath the weight of sorrow? Has the cold grasp of death seized upon the darling object of your affections? Has a serious blank been made in your heart and your home—a blank which no earthly object can fill up? Then remember the heart of Jesus is overflowing with tender sympathy. He has felt your sorrow. He counts your sighs, and puts your tears into His bottle. If He were here He would not chide your grief. He would sit down beside you and mingle His tears with yours. But you say, "He is not here." True, but He is at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and you can count with certainty on the sympathy of His heart. "Go," then, bereaved and sorrowing one, "borrow thee vessels,... even empty vessels," in which to receive the abundant consolations which flow from the heart of Christ, whose encouraging word to you is, "Borrow not a few."
It may be, however, that the reader is neither troubled about the question of sin, nor yet bowed down under the weight of sorrow. His heart is established in grace; and the beloved circle in which his affections have been wont to play remains unbroken. But then family or commercial cares press upon his spirit. His children are not going on as he would like, or his business prospects are gloomy. If such be my reader's position, he too can learn a sweet and seasonable lesson from Elisha's words. He can go forth and borrow his empty vessels, for there is "oil" enough for him, even the "oil of gladness" for his burdened spirit. To such a one the word is, "Cast thy burden on the Lord." He will surely sustain. "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you." "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Do not carry the burden for another hour. Cast it directly, cast it entirely, upon the One who is as able as He is willing, and as willing as He is able, to sustain it. In a word, "Go, borrow thee vessels... empty vessels" into which the copious streams of divine peace may flow for your perplexed and anxious spirit. And remember the gracious charge, "Borrow not a few."
But these lines may, perhaps, meet the eye of someone whose case has not, as yet, been exactly met. His exercise does not spring from a troubled conscience, a bereaved heart, or a spirit perplexed about domestic or commercial affairs. The fact is, the entire scene around has repulsed and disappointed him. And yet not so much the world, for no true Christian would think of expecting aught from it. But in the very midst of his Christian friends, all his hopes have been blighted. He had looked at those Christians from a distance, and they seemed to present the appearance of all that was lovely and attractive—so separated—so heavenly—so loving. Yet alas! on coming among them, he did not realize his fondly cherished hope, and his heart, once big with expectation, is now furrowed by sore disappointment. This is no uncommon case. There is many a furrowed heart within the precincts of the Church of God. But, blessed be God, the heart's deep furrows are but so many "vessels... empty vessels," in which to receive the streams of comfort and solace emanating from "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever"; and the heart that has many furrows is ready furnished with vessels "not a few." God will surely fill those vessels; and then one comes back to he a channel of blessing in the scene which had disappointed him.
In a word then, whatever be the state or condition of the soul—whether it be a question of sin or sorrow, difficulty or disappointment—the message from God is one and the same. "Go, borrow thee vessels"—and mark, it is "empty vessels"—vessels "not a few." What magnificent grace shines in the words "empty" and "not a few"! Our vessels must be empty. God will not pour into a vessel half-filled with creature supplies. In every case the vessel must be absolutely empty; for only then is it fully manifest that the "oil" has come directly from God Himself. The word "empty" shuts out the creature. The words "not a few" leave room for God to come in.
Beloved reader, these are simple truths; but simple as they are, they stand connected with the grand essential element of the divine life in the soul. Would that they were more deeply engraver on our hearts by the eternal pen of God the Holy Ghost!