Four Verbs That Combat ScarcityDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
“Then he took the seven loaves, gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to share around, and they gave them to the crowd. They had a few small fish, which he also blessed and told them to distribute. They ate; they were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets of leftover bits.”
Four verbs: take, bless/thank, break, and give. The four gospels use combinations of these verbs in some very specific places in scripture. The feeding of the thousands, Jesus’ final Passover meal, and the Emmaus Road meal. These four verbs demonstrate for us how God’s economy works.
Jesus will only ever take what we bring him. What we offer him is always very earthy and a reflection of who we are. For the disciples by the Sea of Galilee all they brought with them was a sack lunch, seven loaves of bread, and a few fish. These things were presented to Jesus willingly and desperately as the only food available. Jesus accepted the morsels just as they were, with no coercion or judgment. The greatest element we ever bring to such a situation is simply ourselves, and Jesus also takes us just as we are.
Jesus then gives thanks. What we offer to Jesus, Jesus offers to God with thanks. He blesses the bread with possibly the most simple of dinnertime style prayers. He does not judge the bread or the giver, he simply is grateful for what is present and blesses the effort.
Jesus breaks the bread. Because anything we truly offer up to Christ never remains the same. It is always changed through brokenness. Cynthia Cocelli notes, “The seed to achieve its greatest expression must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who does not understand growth it would look like complete destruction.” Our gifts, however small and insignificant, must be broken if they are to achieve their “greatest expression.”
Jesus gives back what we bring him. But it is no longer what we brought. It has changed into what God gives. Eugene Peterson says, “Everything we bring to Jesus is given back, but lavishly—the twelve baskets witness the largess (Mark 6:43); the seven baskets mark the generosity (Mark 8:8).”
These verbs require courage. For it is the disciples who initially own the bread. They are the ones who sacrificially give it to Jesus. They then receive it back from Jesus with the command to share it with the crowds. Our scarcity must be shared with those around us if we are to understand their true blessedness. They are the ones who collect the leftovers. God’s economy is one of generosity. He alone takes our scarcity and turns it into abundance by taking, blessing, breaking, and giving. It is our responsibility to have the courage to share, receive back, distribute to those around us, and receive back abundance.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
What are you afraid to give to Jesus? Why do we operate out of fearful places of scarcity rather than joyful places of giving?
Lord Almighty, help me to bring before you all my goods, talents, and time so that you can bless, break, and give them out to the world around me. Amen.