Living Generously, Part IV

Giving up the last you have of something for someone else can take a lot of love. I know examples where this isn’t true can easily be created. For instance, when you’ve eaten all but two slices of that large pizza, allowing your spouse to have those two final pieces isn’t a sacrifice (no, it’s not). It probably doesn’t require much love. Those aren’t the cases I’m talking about. I’m talking the situations where you’re hungry, when all you have is enough food for you, and when it will be a long time before you eat again. When you give up your food willingly then, that’s a sacrifice. Those are the situations God can use to show His love, both to you and to the one(s) you are giving up for. And that’s exactly what He did through a boy.

  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.  – John 6:9-13, ESV

Five thousand people had gathered to hear Jesus and have Him heal them. We know from Matthew 14 that it was evening. The crowd was far from any place where they could get a meal. No one had planned for a crowd that large and there wasn’t food readily available. This was a tough spot. Philip did the math. Not only was there no place nearby to buy enough to feed the folks, but the cost was too high. Then Andrew shows up with a boy. The boy’s haul is five loaves of bread and two fish. That’s it? That won’t make a dent in anything. Yet Jesus has the folks sit down, He asks for a blessing on the food, and the food is distributed. Everybody was fed and there were plenty of leftovers.

How could five loaves of bread and two fish feed five thousand people? Was this kid competing for a world record like we sometimes where a town gets together to build the world’s largest pizza? No. They were simply five loaves of bread and two fish. Yet enough was had for everybody. From little came much. From the sacrifice of a boy came the meal for five thousand. This is what God is prepared to do. This is why He says trust Him. We might not have much. That’s not the point. Truth be told, He doesn’t require anything from us. He can do it without us. However, He is interested in our development. He loves us and wants what is best for us. That means He wants us to learn how to trust Him and to put our faith in what He promises, not in what we can see and touch. For one boy, his sacrifice proved to be an unthinkable miracle. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I hope he went away a believer that day.

That’s why the BIble says to live generously. God wants us to put our faith in Him. He wants to show us He can deliver when no one else can. He wants to prove to us that He is involved in our lives and is watching over us. If we put our trust in Him and we respond according to His call, He promises to take care of us and the person we are helping. He’s not promising enormous wealth, at least not here. He is promising that He’s going to step in when we need Him, but first we must step in to help others. We must treat our money and possessions for they are: tools, opportunities, and instruments of love to share the Gospel. It doesn’t matter what kind of financial or emotional or any other type of condition we find ourselves in. What’s stopping you? Don’t know if you can make it? If you’re following God’s lead, you will. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow. That’s because He is beside us today. Do you enjoy the trappings of having money too much? That can keep you from where you want to be. Ask the rich, young ruler. He had it all, but when he couldn’t follow Jesus, it all amounted to zero. What stopped him? Money and possessions did. Let us not be like the rich young ruler. Let’s be like the boy who helped feed the five thousand. Let’s take God at His Word, make a difference to those around us, and then watch as God blesses us and them.

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