Lessons On A Servant's Heart

I knew it was a problem when I checked caller ID and didn't pick up the phone. I knew exactly who it was, but I was too busy. Too tired. Too strung out by the events of my own day to listen to hers.

I was "too" a lot of things, but mostly I was too selfish.

When the phone rings and your first instinct is to just unplug it, you know it's a problem.
When you really do have some time to talk but you'd rather spend that time on your own stuff, you know it's a problem.
When innocent people are an inconvenience as they're reaching out to you, you know it's a problem.

God has a habit of convicting your heart in ways you can't ignore. He's not going to be subtle when what you need is to be slapped upside the head.

So when I began my Bible study the next day and found myself in the middle of Matthew chapter 14, it wasn't a physical slap. It did, however, make me a little queasy as I suddenly saw two verses in a whole new light.

The portion of Scripture beginning at Matthew 14:13 gives us the first account of the feeding of the five thousand, a story that is detailed in all four gospels. Jesus had just heard of the death of John the Baptist and had taken a ship across the sea. On his heels were five thousand men, plus their wives and children. As Jesus left the boat and saw the multitude that had followed Him, Matthew says the Lord was "moved with compassion toward them." These thousands spent the day with Him, watching as the sick were healed and miracles were marveled over.

And then the evening came.

His disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. Matthew 14:15

It seems like a natural human response to a long day of work. "Master, it's late in the day and these lovely people need to get on their way so everyone can rest. They can go get something to eat and get to bed early. We'll gladly meet up with them again tomorrow."

To the ears of a Savior whose very character is hospitality, this was not the right course of action. Yes, the people were hungry. Yes, it had been a long day. Yes, it was getting dark. But the Bread of Life had a different meal in mind.

But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. Matthew 14:16

The disciples' first reaction was to send hungry people in search of food. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? They'll find something, somewhere, right? There's nothing here for them to eat, so there's really no other option.

I can almost hear Jesus' heart break as He gently nudges them in the right direction. No, they don't have to go anywhere. Everything they need is here in the presence of the Christ.

And here, at the end of the day and in front of thousands of people, provision was given where there seemed to be so little. A handful of loaves and a couple of fish. Good for one or two people, but surely not a multitude.

Until Jesus steps in.

When the disciples began passing baskets of bread and fish around, each row of people had more than enough. Matthew described them as "filled." Not just enough to get by or a snack to tide them over. They were filled to the brim and could have had even more. The disciples brought back twelve full baskets - one for each of them.

When the disciples held out their hands to be used as waiters for the Lord's meal, Jesus Christ was able to use them to share His miracle. Jesus filled their hands with everything they needed to do as He commanded: give ye them to eat. They didn't have what they needed under their own power, but with Christ they had more than they needed.

It was at this point that I understood the message God was laying on my heart that morning. When I was too wrapped up in my own agenda and my own schedule, I had echoed the disciples: Lord, it's time to send the people away. By not giving up even a moment for the needs of another, I mirrored the request of the disciples: They'll find something, somewhere. Send them on their way.

Praise the Lord that He never sends anyone away. He never says He's too busy, too tired or too anything. He will never take the phone off the hook or pretend He didn't hear it ringing. His heart is too loving to turn anyone away when they approach Him. How many times has He been there waiting for me when I needed Him most? Isn't this, then, an example of how we should be treating one another?

Once I had confessed my heart condition, I immediately went to the phone and called that number. We talked, and I was able to provide a listening ear, a suggestion to a problem and opened the door to some hospitality down the road. Through His word, God gave me exactly what I needed to give up my selfishness and take the opportunity to reflect Him a little brighter. I pray now that I will see these moments not as interruptions, but as opportunities to do for someone else what Christ has done for me.

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