“5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, ‘Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?’ 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
7 Philip replied, ‘Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!’
8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?’” - John 6:5-9 NLT
So often when reading the story of the 5,000, the boy is either overlooked entirely or played up as a joke. I read Andrew as I would a sarcastic text message today: “Hey, Jesus, there’s this kid with a Happy Meal. Looks like they gave him an extra Filet-O-Fish. Score!” Meanwhile Peter’s asking why the boy didn’t bring Chick-fil-A, to which John reminds him that it’s Sunday and options are slim.
But the fact is there was still this boy willing to share his fish and bread in the face of the 5,000, unafraid of hearing “That’s sweet dear,” before being patted on the head and sent back to his seat.
You know what I love about kids? They can be fearlessly generous when they want to be. Like when my son was younger and would offer his partially chewed food to me. He enjoyed it, why wouldn’t I? Or when my daughter realizes she has two copies of the same book for little girls, so why wouldn’t she want to give one to her much older cousin?
It’s not that kids are fearless and risk going bankrupt with their generosity—remember, fearless is not reckless. It’s that kids fear less about how silly their offering may look to others than they care about what others think, and isn’t that often the point of our service to God?
Do we care more about the scoffers of our offering or what the Creator can do with His creation?
As this story goes on to show, Christ can do amazing things with our silly generosity. I see Jesus offer the boy a warm smile, maybe even a wink of encouragement, before giving a simple command: “Tell everyone to sit down.” Andrew is flabbergasted, John pretends he isn’t surprised, and Peter still sits on his hopes for some chicken nuggets. But we know what goes on from there, thousands eat their fill, and in Luke we even read the boy had leftovers to spare.
What can you be fearless in giving? Step away from our typical financial concepts and look at what you have available to give. Can you bake? Make your neighbor a loaf of banana bread. Yes, it’s awkward to knock on a neighbor’s door and just give them something, but I guarantee they won’t forget it—and it may be the only light of Christ that cracks through the door of their life.
Don’t underestimate your fish and bread, especially when given into the hands of Christ. Be fearless in your generosity, and then you’ll have a part in feeding the 5,000.
Jesus, let us never overlook our own offerings or let the thoughts of others make us tremble to give what we have. Remind us that creation is only used to its fullest when in the hands of the Creator, and even the most simple of gifts can make the biggest of impacts. Let us not worry what others may think of our fish and loaves, let us be fearless in our generosity this year! In your name, amen.