Some of the self-imposed limitations we Christians sometimes place upon our witnessing efforts, or lack thereof, are expressed in these ways: “I’m not gifted enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not experienced enough. I’m not _______.”
This perceived human lacking actually flies in the face of our calling to walk by faith with the Lord who tells us in His word, “I can do all things (including the work of evangelism) through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Personal evangelism is done in and through the power of God, at least evangelism that is fruitful and glorifies God. In the book of Zechariah, Zerubbabel was encouraged to complete the Temple rebuilding project after the Lord brought the Jewish people back to Jerusalem in 538 BC. God spoke about this effort by saying it would be completed, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
More directly, Jesus in John 15:5, said, “Without me you can do nothing.” When applied to evangelism, our personal witness needs to be both Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered.
“Evangelism without the Holy Spirit is like a body without a soul,” Delos Miles said.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you have a desire to share your faith with others, and I applaud and affirm you in the Lord! In short, you are hungry on some level to tell others about Jesus. If so, I’ve got great news for you today!
Evangelism is not so much about who we are, what we have, or what we can do, but who God is, and what He can do in and through us. You see, what little we can offer God in our evangelistic efforts can be multiplied and utilized by Him in remarkable ways!
Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 provides a powerful reminder of God’s power of utilization and multiplication of our meager offering.
The Setting: Aside from the miracle of the resurrection, the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:11-17, John 6:1-13). In fact, it’s only one of eleven events recorded in all four of the gospels.
The disciples, while recognizing the physical needs of the people, also focused on their own limitations in meeting the people’s needs, namely satisfying their hunger:
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food” (Matthew 14:13-15).
I often tend to focus on my limitations, rather than on God’s limitless resources. In our witness, how often do we recognize the spiritual needs of people, namely their need of Christ, and think, “They need Jesus, but someone else will share the Lord with them.” There have been people in my sphere of influence I know to be lost, and while I pray for their salvation, I focus on my limitations. I generally don’t try to get away with the excuse of, “I’m not capable,” because I’ve seen God use me enough not to try that one, but I certainly will attempt to justify my not reaching out with thoughts like, “I’m too busy to get involved with them.” All of us can become experts at rationalizing away our kingdom responsibilities, whatever they are.
In reality the Lord has brought some of these precious people across my path for me to pray for them, love on them, and yes, witness to them! As I pen these words, the Lord is showing me people in my life with whom I need to take next steps. Will I obey or disobey?
In the gospel of Matthew alone, Jesus had already performed twelve miracles in the first twelve chapters of prior His feeding of the 5000 here in Matthew 14! Apparently the disciples were more focused on their limitations rather than the Lord’s ability to meet the people’s physical hunger. In this case, they tell the Lord what they think should be done!
The Offering: The Lord calls disciples out, then calls them to offer that which they do possess:
But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me” (Matthew 14:16-18).
In one sense the disciples were right to acknowledge their limitation, but in another sense, their limitation failed to recognize the multiplication power of God.
The wonder of God’s saving power is that He uses you and me, broken vessels, yet vessels of reconciliation, to accomplish salvation in the world! You see, the church is God’s vessel of reconciliation in accomplishing the great commission. In fact, the Church is the hope of the world. There is no plan B!
The same God who used that initial group of misfits known as the disciples to turn the world upside down for Jesus, will use you and me today in making a difference in each of our unique spheres of influence.
He simply calls us in our witness to bring that which He has endowed us with, no matter how little or insignificant, and offer it up in faith. With that offering He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” to accomplish His plans and purposes.
Where did the loaves and fishes come from in Matthew 14? From God, the maker of heaven and earth. The disciples did in fact bring their seemingly meager offering to the Lord. Will we offer ourselves to the Lord as a witness, no matter how meager we deem this offering?
The Multiplication: While this miracle involved the exponential multiplication of the existing loaves and fishes, the Lord could have accomplished it without them! Instead, the Lord blessed the offering and met the physical needs of the people through it:
He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children (Matthew 14:18-21).
There is a powerful faith lesson for us in this narrative. The Lord uses human offerings, though small, to meet great needs! In our society there are great spiritual needs today, the greatest need being salvation!
For you and me, that next step of faith, an offering of time, talent, prayer, proclamation of truth, or good works invested in a relationship, may be meager in our estimation, but in the hands of a mighty God, may be used to meet great spiritual needs.
What can we do?
Simply offer that which God is requiring of us, and it looks different for each of us. To the disciples in Matthew 14, the Lord said, “Bring me the fish and bread.”
There are people in our midst who are spiritually hungering for that which only Jesus can provide. What is He asking you to offer Him today on their behalf? Will you?