The Hopeful and Helpful
By Toby Crowder
“There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?”- John 6:9
The days in which we live demand a lot from today’s Christian… and especially the dedicated disciple of Christ. Now, possibly more than ever, the effect of individual decisions is becoming more important and more visible in the life of the church. You may not think that what you do (or do not do) matters, but it does! Tithing… attendance… faithfulness… witnessing… all these matter because there is much at stake. While some churches decline in number, the actual church itself grows stronger as dedicated believers hold fast to the profession of our faith. They have HOPE that is anchored in Jesus Christ, and they want to HELP serve Him and be the salt and light that our world needs.
The sixth chapter of John is a lengthy one, and much is happening on the pages of Scripture. I would like to introduce you to some personalities that were in the crowd in the early verses of this chapter. Perhaps they sound familiar to you… perhaps we can identify with them. The Bible tells us in v.2 that there was a great multitude that followed him “because they saw his miracles.” We will call this group the “half-hearted ones” because they were only there because of the miracles that Jesus did. They were interested in being a part of the crowd… and seeing the sights and miracles. These would not stay when the going got hard… or when something better came along. They were not there for what they could do for Christ, but what He could do for them! Some folks come to church and are curious or “along for the ride.” They are content to sit and be served… not volunteering, not working, but just being served… They expect a lot from the church, but they don’t want to be the church.
When Jesus saw the crowd, he questioned Philip about how to feed them, even though he already knew the answer! In Philips’s reply… we see another type of personality arise; the “hesitant ones.” Philip answered the Lord “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” I get the feeling that Philip knew that Christ was able to provide a miracle, yet there was some hesitancy in his voice. Maybe his faith was wavering, or the crowd seemed too vast, or perhaps he was hesitant to simply ask the Lord to provide for this great number. I believe this describes a lot of Christians in today’s church and world… they are not unbelieving, but hesitant. They don’t expect God to do “big” things… and are hesitant to ask for them. Remember, we are only as effective for Him as our faith allows us to be, and Philip didn’t have any idea what Jesus was going to do… even though he had witnessed the miracles that Jesus had been performing. We may not be half-hearted… but many of us are hesitant. We believe that He can… but do we believe that He will?
The last group that I will mention is a combination of two terrific qualities… the hopeful and the helpful! In the verse above, Andrew comes to Christ with a possible solution to the problem they faced. He spoke the words of hope, coupled with a desire to help! You can almost hear the hope in his voice as he asks Jesus “what are they among so many?” Can you imagine a multitude of weary, hungry people that numbered in the thousands all needing to be fed? To us, it would appear to be an insurmountable dilemma, yet there was hope in Christ! The turning point of the story is found in the lunch of a small lad who desired nothing more than to lend a helping hand. What he had was very small… barley was the food of the poor. What we call loaves were likely small, flat wafers and the fish may have been more like sardines, but this helpful lad offered what He had in hopes that it would be a help to the Lord! Make no mistake… the miracle was not in the lad or the disciples but the hands of Christ! Whatever it is that you have to offer in the service of Christ, bring it to Him with the hope that it will be multiplied in His hands!
Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 26 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. He can be contacted via the church’s website MCfamilyforChrist.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
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