Loaves and Fishes
One of my favorite Bible stories is the one about Jesus feeding the 5000. Jesus was out teaching, and the people were getting hungry. The disciples talked to Jesus about letting the people go, so that they could go get something to eat. Jesus challenged his disciples to feed the people. Andrew, one of his disciples, found a small boy with a smart parent who sent him a packed lunch for his day with Jesus. The boy had a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, and with that, Jesus had enough for a feast.
So, any time I start to worry about running out of something - enough food for a party, supplies for school, money at the end of the month - I’ll say “loaves and fishes.” Do I think that God will miraculously and immediately change my chicken salad sandwich into enough for my Bible class? Not really. I just remind myself that I believe in a God who multiplies. It’s a reminder that I don’t control spiritual supply and demand.
When I say, “loaves and fishes,” I really mean that followers of Jesus don’t get caught up in what we can’t control. Scarcity is an enemy, man. And living with a scarcity mindset can be frightening. The scarcity mindset is simply the fear of running out. If I use up all of this, then I won’t be able to find anymore.
But, as believers, we have to put on a new mindset. One that isn’t afraid of losing what we have. Years ago, I heard speaker Charlotte Siems say: “Fear is faith in the wrong kingdom,” and this sentence still motivates me whenever I’m feeling like I need to hold on to things.
The scarcity mindset is a mindset of fear. Holding on - to what we think we control, to our material possessions, or to our own authority - is bowing down to fear that we shouldn’t have.
In the Old Testament, we read about the Israelites leaving Egypt. They ate in a hurry. They packed up quickly. They travelled light. And of course, not long after crossing the Red Sea to safety from their 400 years of slavery, they all started to complain about what to eat and drink.
God sent them daily portions of manna from heaven. Every day they would use it up, and every day they would be given more. If you hoarded it, it would spoil.
The Israelites struggled with that scarcity mindset at first. We don’t have anymore? What’s going to happen if I get hungry later?! And then the next morning, those fears melted with the morning dew as food spread out on the ground for the taking. God provided their daily needs, and they could rest in the promise of tomorrow.
Then, came the temple. Priests would bake special showbread and place it on a table in the holy place of the temple. It would stay on the table for a week and then get changed out on the Sabbath with fresh loaves. The priests could eat the special bread in a special place after it had been on the table for the week. (This is the bread David and his men ate when he was on the run from King Saul.)
With the temple model, the people thought God could only be found in the holiest of places through ritualistic cleansing and ceremony, through priests designated to carry out the ceremonies. Forgiveness for the people went through the priests in a room curtained off from everyone else.
But then Jesus came, and he said, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us of our sins as we also forgive those who sinned against us.” After Jesus, the temple curtain tore from top to bottom. Jesus made the everyday holy. We don’t have to hoard up our forgiveness. We don’t hold onto our special bread. We break it up and pass it out. Jesus put forgiveness and daily bread right up against each other in his prayer.
Jesus talked about wild forgiveness and mercy. You just give it out. Freely and openly. You don’t have to save it for a week or eat it in a holy place. You can give out these things freely with no worries about running out.
There’s always more the next day. He told us not to worry about what we would eat or what we would wear because God takes care of those things. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive those who sinned against us. It’s all right there together.
Leave it to God to give us daily holiness ready to pass out to everyone around us.
Forgiveness. Mercy. Grace. We don’t store them up. We don’t harbor our forgiveness for only those who are worthy. We give it out. It’s manna. It’s daily bread - not saved for sacrifice.
Daily bread, freely given, and given again the next day. And God takes those and multiplies them. Loaves and fishes.