It seemed like a good idea at the time. Any thoughts of a diet were out the window when I spotted the steak on the menu. Not just any steak, mind you. It was a succulent, juicy premium cut weighing in at 28 ounces! As I ordered, I scrupulously avoided eye contact with my wife, Martie, knowing that she would discourage such a self-indulgent choice.
It was a classic case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach. As hungry as I was, there was no way I could finish this slab of beef. In fact, looking at the plate, it seemed that I had hardly made a dent in it. I had it boxed up, and I walked out of the restaurant stuffed but eagerly anticipating the leftovers that the box would yield for tomorrow’s lunch.
That’s about the time I spotted the homeless person. Or, more specifically, he spotted me. He asked for some money, and after I initially refused, a guilty stab of conscience prompted me to slip him five dollars and a quick blessing in Jesus’ name. Having done my Christian duty, I was ready to head home, boxed steak in hand, when I heard him call out, “What about the box?”
My selfish instincts kicked in as I tightened my grip on the box. I had just parted with a crisp five-dollar bill. How insultingly bold for him to ask for my steak as well! Then God moved in and reminded me that it’s not the act of giving but the sacrifice in giving that makes the greatest statement about true love and dynamic selflessness. So, a little reluctantly, I handed over the box as well.
I’m reminded of John 6:1-14—a little boy, a little lunch, and a huge miracle. The story appears in all four of the Gospels and stands as a powerful example, not only of self-sacrifice, but also of trust in God’s ability to do much more than we could imagine with the little bit that we surrender to Him.
This little guy had a choice. He could be a consumer, using the lunch to satisfy only his own needs and desires, or he could be an investor, willingly placing it in the hands of One who could do so much more with it. The choice was his and it was not an easy choice—we all know how much lunch means to a hungry boy! He could keep it and devour it only to be hungry again or trust his precious commodity to the work of Jesus Christ. We all know the rest of the story. Christ gave him the privilege of partnering in a colossal miracle. Today he ranks as a Bible story hero, and Jesus made sure he didn’t go hungry after all.
So what do you have in your hands today? You probably have a lot more than a few leftovers from supper. How about some time? Maybe some abilities or talents that could be used to serve others? Maybe it’s financial resources. A smile, a note in the mail, a reassuring phone call, or a combination of sacrificial acts of love go a long way to open the door for Jesus to make a difference in someone’s life.
Right now, you may be saying, “But I don’t have much to give.” You’ve done the math, and it seems like it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the depth of the needs around you. And humanly speaking, you’re probably right. How can we possibly make a difference in the face of the overwhelming physical and spiritual needs around us? That’s just the point. We can’t! But our gifts of love—regardless of the size—open the door for Jesus to do some surprisingly great things. As has been often said, “Little is much when God is in it!”
When you give in Jesus’ name, you invest in the One who can “do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
If a little kid could give up his lunch for Jesus, we’ve got no excuse!
- Take a few minutes to think through some of the physical and spiritual needs of the people around you. How do you feel as you think about all these needs?
- What resources do you have in your hand? Think about blocks of time, God-given talents and abilities, and financial resources that might be available.
- How can you grow in your passion to be an “investor” in God’s kingdom, rather than just a “consumer” in this temporary world?
- Make a specific plan today to give to a need in the world around you.