what I learned about giving from a 5 year old

My 5 year old son is being featured in the Food for the Hungry newsletter this month. Why? Because he gave $7.

I can’t stop thinking about the lesson his gift teaches me about giving.

Giving financially is an act of trust. Obviously, when we give from our resources, it takes trust that our own needs will still be met. But, I think there is another trust involved. A trust that many of us don’t have. A trust that keeps us from moving towards generosity in areas we want to act.

Giving takes trust that our gift will make a difference.

There are so many needs in the world. It is overwhelming to think of them all. Poverty. Famine. Lack of clean water. Human trafficking. Government oppression. Religious persecution. Sexism. Racism. AIDS. Malaria. Orphans. Widows…. The list could go on for pages.

So, we are often left wondering if giving is worth it. If all I can scrounge up in my budget is $10 or $20 or even $50 or $100, is it worth it? The world needs millions. Would my measly gift really help?

That question reminds me of a well-known story from the Gospels. A story of how Jesus multiplies gifts.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.  – John 6:5-15

We look at this story as a miracle that Jesus performed years ago. We forget that this same Jesus is active in the world today. That multiplication like this can still happen.

I don’t think it is coincidence that the person who gave his lunch in this story was a young boy. He trusted that Jesus could use his meager 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed a huge crowd. Perhaps this is what Jesus means when He says we should have faith like a child. After all, it is a child’s song that says, “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”

Maybe it is also not coincidence that my son gave seven, too. It wasn’t five loaves and two fish, but five dollars and two dollars. Still meager by most evaluations. But my son’s gift is being multiplied.

First, it was multiplied by the matching grant that increased his gift to $140. Enough to buy 2 goats. Enough to make a difference to a family during a famine. But now his gift is being multiplied again through the newsletter. I’m guessing his story will inspire a few others to give. Their gifts may inspire others, and the multiplication will continue.

So, I want to respond by doing something a little crazy- a challenge. A $7 challenge. I want to challenge anyone reading this post to give $7 to help with a need in the world. $7. Not enough to buy a meal at most restaurants. Also not enough for most to need a big budget evaluation to figure out if it can be done.

I challenge you to give $7 and test God’s multiplication abilities.

Give to a church or a non-profit or a person- whatever has been on your heart. Give to a need that you have hesitated to give to, wondering if your small gift would really make a difference.

And then, do me a favor. Pop back here and leave a comment. Tell stories of what you saw God do with your gift. How did it make a difference? It may not be obvious, but look for it. Trust that when we give God a gift, He can do more than we would expect or imagine.

Let’s follow the examples of children. Let’s remember “Our God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do.”

*Want to do it now, before you forget? And some ideas of where to give? Here are a few organizations I think are great causes. Food for the Hungry Living Water International Free Wheelchair Mission Heal Africa

* Want to tweet about this? Use #7dollarchallenge. Let's see how this could spread!