Some time ago, I read the account of Jesus feeding five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fish and what struck me was that after everyone had been fed, there were twelve baskets of food left over.
“And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to the disciple, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore, they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:11-13
Generosity: An aspect of God
One of the attributes of God’s nature, one aspect of love, we could say, is its generosity or abundance. The five thousand people in the crowd were not just kept from starvation – they were generously provided for! The abundance was sufficient to be gathered up and put to good use so that none of that blessing would be wasted.
It is God’s nature that I am to put on during my time here on earth as a disciple of Jesus. (2 Peter 1:3-4) This generosity, which is born of love, is something that can also become a part of my nature.
Jesus had the same mind as His Father. His life while He was here on earth showed us how we can also get that mind. As His disciples, we are to follow that example of living according to the Word of God that He left us. By doing that, by giving up our own will and opinions in order to follow in the steps of our Master, we can exchange our thoughts for God’s thoughts.
Characteristics of a disciple
Reading this story awoke in me a desire to be like Jesus in spirit – to have the same attitude and longing to give. To offer my time, attention, resources, forgiveness (if there is something to forgive) generously. There is nothing beautiful or divine about grudging, heartless giving. True forgiveness, for example, is from the heart and is able to bless and love the offender. This is the generosity that God offers to us. Like the twelve baskets left over, there is more than enough, and to spare.
Such giving creates a blessing over the people that I have to do with. This in turn has an effect on the people they have to do with. In this way, nothing is wasted, and I find myself blessed too, contributing to a sense of thriving and well-being around me and witness to the power and wonder of Jesus’ love for mankind.
Stinginess, meanness, and heartlessness are the opposite of God’s nature. Generosity and a desire to give and bless are characteristics that belong to a disciple of Jesus Christ.