How Much _______Do You Have?

Renee Mikell




Matthew 15

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

Several years ago, I read a book entitled Jesus is the Question. We all know Jesus is the answer to any situation we face. People have actually written songs about it. But how many of us have taken time to consider all the questions Jesus asked? 
The book’s author says Jesus asked more than 300 questions in the Gospels ... and only answered a few directly. Personally, I believe Jesus did not ask those questions because he wanted answers, but so people would reflect more deeply on principles about how to live more faithfully toward him and each other. What better time to focus on how Jesus wants us to live than during the Eastertide Season.

Today’s question is found in the Gospel of Matthew 15:34. Within the text and original context of this scripture Jesus asks the disciples: How much bread do you have? My question for us to consider is: How much ____ do you have? Fill in the blank.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world, a place where the United States controls almost 30% of all wealth worldwide. Yet even with that reality, people in our society still experience great lack. That is because only a small percentage have access to the wealth. And so instead of recognizing the abundance of resources available to us as having much to share, our society operates out of a sense of lack.
The perception of lack says: “If I hold on to all my stuff, I will have everything I need”.
The sense of lack says: “If there is a paper shortage, (I’m being politically correct here)  I should run out and purchase more than I need”. 
The sense of lack says: “If I help you, it takes away from me."

In the Matthew 15 text, Jesus turned those patterns of thought upside down. During his time in Galilee he assessed what was needed and what was available. He saw a mountainside full of hurting people and a handful of disciples. Instead of operating out of a sense of lack he set up a healing line and ministered non-stop for three days. After every person’s need had been considered, Jesus turned to his disciples and encouraged them to do the same asking “How many loaves do you have?”

But notice, he only asked them to offer what they had to give out of their own abundance. He did not ask them for a miracle. He did not send them to the grocery store, but prompted them to simply step back, take inventory and share what they already had for the common good.

I know it sounds simple, rather easy to do. But have you ever tried to convince children to share? I tell you there will be much screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth. I can’t speak for any you, but there have been times when the opportunity to share has evoked a similar response from me.

Times like when I am filling up the boxes for a clothing donation. I’ve gone to the closet with good intentions, pulled one dress off the hanger, changed my mind and put it back. I continued moving down the line to the next and the next. Sometimes the struggle kicks in, with what seems like a brief amount of internal screaming and gnashing of teeth.

There was always that dress, those shoes, or that special blouse I could not bring myself give up. I leave more behind in the closet than I had intended to put in the donation box. Only to realize later, what I refused to let go of was left hanging in its original spot without being used the next time around.

Something beautiful happens when you give without hesitation, reservation or personal regard. When it happens, people see it as not coming from you, but as a gift from God. Verse 31 says…The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing.  And they praised the God of Israel. The primary goal of our giving is not for people to see us, but for them to experience GOD through us.

My story does not show a direct path to ministry. I worked in the corporate environment for nearly 20 years. After sensing my call to ministry, I went back to school pursuing a new major for two years before entering seminary. During that time, I worked for the federal government in the world’s busiest airport. It required a focused commitment toward the safety and security of every passenger.             
When I left the job to attend seminary, the employee relations coordinator gave me a newly dry-cleaned robe and the beautiful cross that had belonged to her mom. Words cannot describe the honor it was to receive them. It was as if God was there with us in that mome
I took the responsibility seriously. I vowed that nothing bad would happen on my watch. So, I prayed daily at noon in the airport chapel. That led me to take my prayers a bit further: When someone was in distress, I asked if they would like me to pray. Even though it was forbidden to mention God, and there were plenty of cameras, I decided to take the chance and thought people were none the wiser. 
One day there was a lot of confusion happening at the center lane. I was working at the other end of the terminal and a supervisor was calling my name for an assist. I walked toward her wondering why I was called when several others were visibly available to help. When I arrived, the supervisor said “Officer Mikell, she needs what you have.”   

Everyone has enough to share, assist, inspire or encourage other people. Most times it is simply a matter of what we are willing to give. In the text, Jesus asked his disciples how much they had to give. I think he is asking the same of us. How much ________ are you willing you give? Why not take inventory and share something, In Jesus name.



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