Guest contributor: Ed Trego
Imagine yourself as a young boy, eight or nine years old. Imagine that you and your family are on a hillside in Israel over 2000 years ago. As you look around you see more people than you have ever seen in one place. Hundreds, probably thousands, far more than can be counted in a day’s time. Everyone was there to listen to a man named Jesus speak. He spoke in a way never heard before; of love and acceptance of others. He spoke of the kingdom of God and what was required to enter that kingdom.
Where others had spoken of the righteous entering God’s Kingdom, Jesus spoke of the mild and the meek inheriting the world. He spoke of sadness and hunger being relieved and replaced by joy and plenty. These things were never talked about in this way in the synagogue. To hear the leaders of the synagogue speak one would have to be a member of their elite group to have any hope of heaven. This Jesus talked of acceptance of the poor and the common into the kingdom.
He had been speaking since early morning and it was now afternoon. In fact, it was getting close to dinner time. As you look around, you notice a stirring in the crowd. They seem to be getting a bit restless. Jesus is still speaking and it’s nearing meal time. No one wants to leave and miss what he is saying, but people are getting hungry.
In looking around you also notice that most have nothing to eat with them. Maybe they didn’t think he would talk this long so they didn’t bring food with them. Thankfully, your father had thought ahead. In your bag you had the family meal. Not much, just a couple of dried fish and two or three barley loaves. It is just a light meal, but certainly enough to relieve the hunger.
Suddenly, one of the men who have been with Jesus approaches you. He seems to be looking for something and when he sees your bag he comes over to you. “Son, is that food you have in your bag? If so, please tell me what you have.”
“Sir, it’s just two fish and some barley loaves. It’s only a small meal for me and my family.”
“Jesus has need of it. Will you give it to him?”
What a strange request, why would Jesus want to take your meal. The man can see the hesitancy in your face and says, “The Master needs it to feed the crowd. They are hungry and there’s no place nearby to get food.”
“But sir, what good is this small bit of food for so many,” you ask. “But, if Jesus wants them I will give them to him.” The man takes you by the hand and leads you back to where Jesus is sitting. He looks up at you and smiles. In that smile you see and feel more love than you’ve ever known, even more than your parents who certainly love you with all their heart.
“Sir, if you need my fish and loaves, they are yours.” You say as you hand the bag to him.
“Thank you,” he replies. “Your generous gift will be well used I promise you. Stay and eat with me.”
As you sit down, Jesus takes the food you have given him, holds it up and looks up to heaven. “Father, bless these gifts and bless the one who has given them. May they nourish us both physically and through your goodness, spiritually.”
Jesus places the food in two baskets and asks two of his friends to begin passing it out among the crowd. As you watch, the men give food to more and more people. How can this be? They have given food to at least fifty people and there is still more in the baskets. In fact, you can see that the baskets are completely full of food. You look up at Jesus questioningly but he simply smiles at you as he eats his meal. Soon the people in the crowd begin to notice what is happening and start to realize the miracle that is being performed for them.
Jesus puts his arm around you and you can again feel that special love you had felt when he first looked at you. “You see, even a small gift can work great miracles. Always remember that there is no gift so small that God cannot use it to do great things.”
I think we are many times like that small boy at the Sermon on the Mount. We don’t believe the gift we have to offer is worthy of God. So we don’t give it. We wait, saying that when we have a gift significant enough we will gladly give it to God. Unfortunately, the gift never gets big enough in our eyes to make it worthy of God so it never gets given. God never has the opportunity to show us the wonders he can do with our small offering.
There is no gift so small that it can’t be a blessing when given to God or in God’s name. Something as simple as a smile can change a life for someone who feels no one cares anymore. A kind word can lift the spirits of a person in distress and help them overcome their problems. Instead of throwing last year’s jacket in the trash, give it to a shelter to help keep someone warm through the next winter. We have so much and we give so little. We should be ashamed!
What small gift have you been withholding because it isn’t good enough to give to God? If you will only give it, he will use it to work wonders. We may never see the benefit of our gift in this world but I believe in the next we will know the greatness that God has done with our small gifts.
The next time you have some small gift that you can give, remember the young man at the Sermon on the Mount. In the hands of Jesus, his gift of a couple of fish and a few loaves fed thousands. There are no limits to what God can do with your gift and there is no gift too small to please God.