“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
November and December are months when most Americans celebrate the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas with large feasts where we have an abundance of food and are surrounded by family and friends. We are blessed beyond measure to be able to celebrate these special occasions this way, but there are so many people throughout the world who do not have the resources to feed themselves basic meals each day.
Feeding those in need is the focus of both Trinity HOPE and The Table, two of the 2020-2022 LWML Rocky Mountain District mission grant recipients. Trinity HOPE feeds school children in Haiti and The Table feeds the poor and homeless in the west side of Denver.
There are many Christian service organizations that focus on meeting the physical needs of those who cannot provide for themselves. Why are Christians compelled to see to the needs of others? Read the following verses and match them with the reason we are to provide for others.
It demonstrates our faith
It shows a repentant heart
It pleases God
It is serving God
It is commanded by God
In addition, God uses our efforts on behalf of the needy to bless us too! Have you ever talked to someone who has come back from a short term mission trip? You will often hear them say that they got way more out of the experience than they feel they gave. That is how God works: He calls us to action in our faith through which He works growth/blessing/change in us at the same time. As Proverbs 11:25 tells us: Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. Let’s look at how Jesus did this for his disciples in the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Read each of the four accounts of this event found in the gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:7-13 and 30-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-14).
The Twelve had just returned from a mission trip to tell others about Jesus, encourage them to repent, and to perform miracles for them. They had been instructed to not bring anything with them, and yet all their needs were provided for while they were gone. They were telling Jesus what had happened on their travels when Jesus invited them to come away with him and get some rest. When they got to the place where they were supposed to have solitude, the crowds found them.
After all they had just experienced on their mission trip, you might think that the disciples were experiencing a “spiritual high” and would be anxious to serve more people, have learned to rely on God’s provision, and expect to see a miracle to provide all that was needed. However, that’s not what we see happen.
When dinner time comes, the disciples’ first impulse is to send the people away so they can provide for themselves. Then, when Jesus tells them that they are to feed the people, they rely on their own reason and logic thinking that the solution Jesus expects is for them to pay to buy food for the crowd. When Jesus asks what food they can find to feed everyone, the disciples don’t think that they have “enough” with only five loaves and two fish. They have clearly forgotten the lessons they learned on their mission trip about the provision and power of God.
Hence, Jesus uses the miracle for the benefit of his disciples. He could have just made food appear before each person in the crowd; he did not need the disciples to help feed the crowd. But, after giving thanks for the food, he instructs his disciples to distribute it to the crowd. He was allowing them to participate in the miracle through which He was increasing their faith, deepening their trust in His power, and renewing their joy in serving others. When the meal was over, twelve baskets of leftovers were collected. What do you think each of the Twelve was feeling and pondering as he walked through the crowd collecting this abundance? We know that each of them was profoundly impacted, because this is one of only four stories outside the event of the Holy Week that appear in all four gospels.
The next time that you have an opportunity to meet the needs of others, rejoice in the fact that you know that God is using the experience to meet your needs too.