(Part 2 of 3)
“By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and by themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
At times the greatest obstacle to compassion is our own reluctance. This reluctance often emerges as we are tainted by people that have abused the system, taken advantage of us, or continually take while giving nothing. We are left with the lingering uncertainty of whether the need was real or contrived making us suspicious of every future need we encounter.
However, this is not the only reason we fail to demonstrate compassion. Sometimes we fail to demonstrate compassion because we don’t see what we have to offer as enough to make a dent in the problem, so we hold back even the little we have been given.
Jesus addressed this problem with one simple question:
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
He did not ask “How many loaves do you need?” He asked “How many loaves do you have?” When the disciples returned with five loaves of bread and two fish; Jesus demonstrated two important truths: give thanks for what you have and then set it before the people.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them.”
The first thing that Jesus did when the disciples returned was to give thanks for what they had been given. Everything we have comes from Him. Instead of focusing on our lack, we should be rejoicing over what God has put in our hands; regardless of how much or how little it appears to be you and me.
Then Jesus said to them, “Set it before the people.” Take what you have and give it to those who need it. One thing I noticed in both passages was that Jesus never prayed for God to multiply the loaves and fishes. He gave thanks for what they had and started passing it out; that’s when God stepped in and provided the increase.
What God proved that day was that He can do amazing things with what we have in our hands; regardless of how much or how little it may be, if we are obedient to share it with those in need.
Pastor Scott Burr