Practical Ways We Can All Make a Difference
As Jesus went ashore He saw a great throng; and He had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said,
“This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
They said to Him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
And He said, “Bring them here to Me.”
Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Then He made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.
One of the most well-known miracles Jesus did was when He multiplied five loaves and two fish and fed a crowd of five thousand men, plus women and children. Let’s say conservatively that each family has three people in it (some have more, some have less), that could mean that as many as 15,000 people ate from five loaves and two fish. That would mean that 3,000 people shared a loaf of bread and 7,500 people split up a fish. That is ridiculous! How could that happen? And to top it off, there were 12 baskets left over. The Greek word which gets translated as “baskets” is actually “kofinas”, which is the Greek word for “coffin”. At that time, a coffin was a huge burial container, not like coffins we have today. Think of a huge burial container from ancient Egypt. Twelve of these filled with leftovers—that’s a lot of leftover food.
Now imagine being one of the disciples when Jesus suggested feeding the large crowd. Imagine what it would have been like to canvas that crowd, asking for some food. Imagine what it must have been like in the crowd, if you had one of those precious loaves set aside for yourself or your family and now you were being asked to give some food for the masses. Give up what you have and risk going hungry. One miracle was that anyone chanced sharing their meager food with a large crowd. That was a miracle in itself!
One of the many lessons of this story is that when we offer something to God, even something small, He can multiply it and make it go far. Imagine if no one had provided any bread of fish. This miracle would not have taken place. Because in order to multiply something, something has to be offered. Zero times anything is still zero.
Several years ago, I gave a sermon on this miracle of the five loaves and two fish in church. I talked about how offering something small can be multiplied by God into something big. And then I took out a piece of paper and a pen and I asked the congregation to come up with small things we could all do to reduce anger and infuse encouragement into the world around us. In a few minutes, they came up with thirty suggestions, that I am going to list here, small and practice ways that we can all make a difference.
1. Give someone a compliment
2. Offer Christian forgiveness
3. Smile to people you encounter
5. Give love
6. Be kind to people
7. Help someone in need
8. Share a meal with someone
9. Call/text someone at random to see how they are doing
10. Thank people
11. Lead by example
12. Don’t annoy people
13. Be mindful of how you are feeling
14. Be mindful of how others are feeling
15. No road rage
16. Send texts of encouragement to people
17. Adjust your own attitude
18. Be there for people when they need it
21. Give someone a compliment
22. Abstain from social media
23. Have compassion
24. Put others first
25. Seek out someone who needs help
26. Ask how someone is doing and actually listen to the answer
27. Recognize that everyone is battling something
28. Be patient
29. Be encouraging
30. Give positive feedback when you like something
Pick one suggestion a day, or even one a week and focus on that. Choose a different one tomorrow next week. If everyone does even one of these to one person a day, you’ll be amazed at what could happen. Most of them will cost little time and no money. They are just about all easy things that we can do with a little bit of intentionality. So go make a difference. What is stopping you?
If everyone reading this message (a) did one of the things listed below every day, and (b) passed this message on to others, and (c) did these things under the umbrella of God and prayer, we actually could change the world. Just like five loaves fed 15,000 thousand, a few hundred people who committed to doing what is listed below could change a few hundred thousand people. It’s actually possible.
Lord, sometimes I feel like I’m sitting in that crowd of 5,000 hungry people. It seems that there won’t be enough food to eat. In the times when I am hungry for affirmation or encouragement, send people around me who will encourage and build me up. Sometimes I feel like I have one of the loaves of bread, and I am afraid to offer it, for fear that I might go hungry.
Give me the strength and courage to offer whatever little I have to You and for Your glory. Multiply what I have and what I offer so that whatever little positive thing I offer can affect many others in a positive way. As You continually multiply Your blessings on me, allow me to multiply those blessings I have received from You to those around me. Help me to see the many small ways that a little encouragement can go along way each day in the situations in which I find myself. Amen.
Think you can’t make a difference? Think again. We all can! Do one of the things on this list today. We can all make a difference!