Multiplying Our Resources
We read in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” We are living in a time of serious financial constrain during which a majority of people find it hard to stretch their income until the next pay day. It is wise to spend time to learn about multiplying resources. What are the principles present in Scriptures to multiply our resources?
Part I: A Restaurant in the Desert
All of the 4 Gospels tell the story of a restaurant in the desert that served the best fish burger ever. Let us revisit this well-known event from the perspective of Mark the Evangelist, to uncover the basic principle of “Multiplying Our Resources”. The full story is found in Mark 6:30-44.
The scene is happening in a solitary place, more precisely in an uncultivated, unpopulated place. Jesus directed the disciples to this spot for them to have some rest. The crowd noticed their movement and came to meet them. Full of compassion, Jesus spent the full day teaching them. His teaching was so relevant to their needs that none felt the need to leave the place to return to the surrounding villages. As the sun was lowering in the sky, the disciples came to Jesus with a request, Mark 6:36, “Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” This was a real challenge, the crowd will soon get hungry and the location where they were could not address their needs. There was no bakery in this desert. It is empty land. A hungry crowd can easily get out of control. The request of the disciples was full of logic and good sense.
Jesus provided an unexpected answer, Mark 6:37a, “But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”” This is informing us that Jesus feels concern about both the spiritual and the temporal needs of people. For the disciples the answer of Jesus was completed disconnected from reality, they surely frowned at him and made their thoughts even more explicit, Mark 6:37b, “They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[e]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “Not only the desert is empty, we do not have the means to cope with this obligation,” pestered the disciples.
Many can identify with the feelings of the disciples. The environment in which we are evolving can sometime be rude and hostile and at the same time we feel limited and without resource. We are incapable of complying with the obligations of life and with the instructions of God. This situation can generate frustration and guilt in many. Certainly, Jesus sympathized with the disciples but he wanted to teach them a lesson about how to move out of scarcity.
After listening, Jesus asked a question, Mark 6:38, “How many loaves do you have?” Seeing the perplexity on their faces, he continued and said, “Go and see.” The story did not tell us how long it took the disciples to go through this huge crowd to ask for loaves. Certainly, when they approached the crowd some apologized and told the disciples that they have not brought food or have already eaten their food for lunch. There is also a probability, that some hid their baskets behind their back when they realized that the disciples were asking for food. The enterprise was not a fruitful one, except for the small basket they received from a little boy. The disciples came back to report about the result of their search, “Five… and two fish.” They thought that they have proven their point to Jesus. With only five loaves and two fish, it is high time to send away the crowd.
Jesus took the precious basket with admiration and according to Mark 6 :41, “He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.” The Gospel helps us to appreciate the extent of the miracle, we read in, Mark 6:42-44, “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.” There were 12 baskets of leftovers was certainly shared among the crowd for them to bring home. The little boy had definitely brought some pieces to his Mum. “They looks like the loaves and fish that I gave you but the taste is of another class,” was the possible comment of the mother.
There are at least 3 lessons from this miracle of Jesus: Desert can become restaurant when Jesus is around; nothing is too small for Jesus; He can only multiply what is given to Him. The food that was left home could not be multiplied, the food that was eaten before the disciples came could not be multiplied; the food that was hidden behind the backs could not be multiplied only the food of the little lad was multiplied. The disciples went through the crowd to look for loaves, the little boy gave his loaves and fish, both loaves and fish were multiplied. He multiplies whatever is given to Him.
Part II : More of God’s Blessings
Whatever is given to Him, He multiplies, is a principle that is valid for all time and places even when life circumstances resemble much like a desert. Let us look at four ways of giving to God today.
In one of his parable Jesus teaches the lesson of giving to God through a substitute. It is a story about some people who were rewarded by their king. These are the words of the king, Matthew 25: 35,36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” They were surprised by the comment and they question the king, Matthew 25:37, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” The following explanation was given, Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Investing our resources in the needy is equivalent to giving to God. We should not be disturbed by the presence of people soliciting our help and assistance, they represent living opportunities for us to give to God. The wise man makes the following statement, Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Whatever is given to Him, He multiplies.
Another way of giving to God is through the practice of tithing, giving one tenth of our income. The first occurrence of this practice in the Bible is from Abraham. We read in Genesis 14: 18-20, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” The father of believers Abram, gave a tithe, one tenth of his increase, after his victory and the blessing received. He gave it to Melchizedek a king and priest centuries before the beginning of the Israelite nation and the Jewish temple service. This points to the universality of the practice of tithing.
Interestingly, the book of Leviticus provides a precision about the One receiving the tithe, we read in Leviticus 27: 30, 32, And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord … And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.” The one tenth that was given to Melchizedek the king-priest and later to the temple was ultimately given to God. It is set apart for the Lord.
Does the principle “Whatever is given to Him, He multiplies” applies therefore to tithe? We have an answer in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” The destination of tithe was the storerooms, these rooms annexed to the temple in Jerusalem. When this is done “the floodgates of heaven are opened” upon the giver. It is an expression that compares God’s blessings on the tither with heavy rain that waters the land. Whatever He receives, He multiplies.
The third way of giving to God is through free-will offerings. We read in Deuteronomy 16: 17, “No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” God is compared to a monarch in this passage to whom His subjects are presenting gifts. This passage is providing three information about free-will offering: it is a component of collective worship, the amount is a proportion of what one has received, it is a response to what God has given.
Does the rules, “Whatever He receives, He multiplies” applies to offering? We read in Proverbs 3:9,10, “Honour the Lord with your wealth with the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wines.”
The ultimate way of giving to God is to give ourselves to Him. This is the recommendation of Paul to the Christians living in Rome, Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” This is an invitation to dedicate, to consecrate our lives to the One who dies for us. Jesus comments on the reward that is reserved for those who accept to put Him first, Luke 18:29-30, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Whatever He receives, He multiplies.
These words of Charles Spurgeon summarize properly the lesson that we have learned through this presentation, “Even if I manage to give to God all of my wealth, He will always find a way to give me back much more to what I have previously.” We cannot “outgive” God. As we live in a world where resources are getting few let us choose to practice the four revolutionary laws of investment: Seize all given opportunity to share your resources to the needy; Return one-tenth of your income to God; Express gratitude for blessings received by giving offerings; Dedicate your life to Him. Remember, whatever is given to Him, He multiplies.