My family, friends and..well..entire congregation
love to give me flack for being known for liking to find a good deal. In my defense, I’m not cheap–but I like to get a good bargain. So, it’s no wonder that I am an avid OfferUp user. I’ve found deals on everything from coffee machines and furniture to a random small planter for one of our plants.
My wife, on the other hand, tends to favor the app a bit less than I do. While she supports the money saving, I’m often asked, “Did you plug it in to test it?” Or my favorite, “You didn’t go inside their house did you?” And just to be clear, I’m not alone. The app processed tens of billions of dollars each year in sales and has over 40 million users!!
I once bought my son a large StarWars Millennium Falcon ship from a woman that was selling it for $50 when she really should have been selling it for over $300 – it was a rare find. When I asked her why she sold it for so cheap, she said, “I guess I just didn’t know what I had was so valuable.” She went on to say that she started to get clued in due to the number of inquiries she was receiving. Lucky for me, my daily, lunchtime OfferUp scrolling tradition paid off.
The woman’s statement about not knowing what she had to “offer up” was of value made me think about how we look at what we have to offer up to God.
We are told to bring our best to the Lord. However, if I may speak frank, after a full day of ministry, counseling sessions, VBS planning and (insert one of the other 10 things you accomplished today) it doesn’t feel like there is much good left for us to offer up. I feel like anything I have to give would be less valuable than last week’s leftovers.
I know you can relate when I say that there are days when I’m driving home and not sure if I have the energy to even watch an episode of American Idol with my family – let alone give something great over to the Lord to bless and multiply. And I, like you, have sat with many that feel that their “leftovers” aren’t good enough to offer up to God. We are good about giving them advice about how the littlest of efforts don’t go unnoticed and actually do please God. We just tend to not take our own advice.
I’ve often wondered what the situation was like on the day that Jesus fed the 5,000. More specifically, I have always wanted to know why, out of 5,000 people, there was only a small boy who had anything to offer up to Jesus. Were those two fish and five loaves for his family? Or were they a leftover from a meal from earlier in the day? Was this boy on his way home from a market visit commissioned by his mother? Or were those fish just a sample of something more that was caught or sold in the morning?
The answer is that it didn’t matter where or how or when he got the fish and bread. What mattered is that Christ got his hands on the food.
Three fish and two loaves were not going to cut it for 5,000 people. This minuscule offering from the boy was of no use in the eyes of many. Even the disciples themselves questioned what could be done with the small offering. That, however, is always the viewpoint of the finite mind of man. Yet Jesus did something that transcended even that moment and displayed a truth that all of us can learn from today: we are valuable, what we have to offer matters, and even the smallest of gifts can make an impact on many.
“Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds…” Matthew 14:19 NAS
What happened here? Was there a certain process that made the food multiply? Were there instructions that the people had to follow to create provision for everyone? Did the disciples jump up and down and do a multiplication rain dance? No. The answer to the increase of is that Christ blessed what was offered up.
The connection for you and me today is actually quite simple. On a weekly basis I communicate with friends, family and staff who are discouraged with where they are in life, what they bring to the table, and the fact that they truly feel like a leftover. They feel disappointed from the opportunities that have passed them by, the mistakes that have resulted in their present circumstances, and not knowing where their place is. Lately, I have been bold in directing them to this story and telling them that God can and will use what you have to offer—as long as you offer it!. He will use the heartbroken and bruised, the down and defeated. And contrary to popular teaching, this truth is the same for pastors.
You see, the key in the story was that Jesus blessed what the young boy gave. He blessed what he HAD, not what he wished he’d had.
He supernaturally multiplied the simplest of gifts in what the boy had to offer. This is a beautiful truth. There are times as ministers where we feel that you have nothing more to offer the Lord than a weary heart. Sometimes we don’t even know what to offer, just that we are willing to offer anything that we have to the Lord. Being willing is enough in itself for God to bless, multiply and use.
It’s humbling that it takes a story of a child to offer all that he had to the Lord – without embarrassment, feeling foolish, or a slew of excuses to show us that God will bless what we offer and multiply it. Isn’t it both odd and maddening how often we hold back from giving to the Lord unless we are in perfect form and proud of every aspect of life? Instead, we need to model ourselves after this boy – to humbly offer what we have over to the Lord to be blessed and impact many.
I will take it a step further: we don’t know what happened to the boy that brought this offering. But I can make a calculated guess that he was a new person after the experience. When God uses us, we are reenergized. When we see the fruits of our faith, we are encouraged. Why then, would we ever second guess if our offering is worthy?
So here is the challenge for today: No matter where you stand in your life or what’s in your basket, offer it up – the Lord will bless it, multiply it and use it for the betterment of others.