WHEN the disciples asked Jesus to send the multitude away to procure provisions for themselves, he answered, "Give ye them to eat." His followers were probably surprised at such a demand, seeing they had but five loaves and two fishes to distribute among five thousand men. Evidently the disciples thought, "Here are thousands of hungry people and nothing to give them; " on the other hand, Jesus demonstrated the omnipotence of Love to satisfy the physical as well as the spiritual needs of mankind. There is always a difference between a gift given for the mere pleasure of giving—the careless generosity of mortal mind—and one offered in love, the value of which lies in what it represents. The feeding of the multitudes was a concrete demonstration of Jesus' love for them, the giving of loaves and fishes an expression of his desire to impart that spiritual food which alone could sustain them. It was the blindness, or indifference, of the disciples on the latter point that made them incapable of satisfying even the physical needs of the people around them.

The narrative of Elijah and the woman who was a widow also shows how supply is always adequate when the true source is sought. Elijah asked the widow for bread, appealing to her generosity, and she, willing to give but oppressed by the sense of want and poverty around her, feared to share what she had, thinking her further needs might not be met. Under the influence of the larger thought and more spiritual understanding of the prophet, she consented to share what she had, and in doing this her needs were supplied, and the barrel of meal did not waste nor the cruse of oil fail. If we share the good that comes to us, knowing that it is the gift of God and therefore inexhaustible, there will always be enough and to spare. Why do we not learn the lesson and live to bless rather than to receive? It is fear that holds us back from imparting to others the blessings that are ours, and this fear springs from a profound ignorance of the nature of supply, its origin and infinitude. Mere giving is in itself but a doubtful blessing, for both the donor and the recipient, unless it is an expression of a real love for mankind and not merely an act to relieve one's feelings or satisfy one's conscience.

There is no doubt that the generous man is lovable, but generosity is a term so loosely applied that it may include lavishness, personal extravagance, and pride of bestowing, all of which are far removed from that real generosity which gives out continually, regardless of self. Oh, the joy of it when once we recognize that we possess boundless wealth which we can share with others. We all possess some good which, if wisely and thankfully used, increases by expending. "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." Was not this the fact that Jesus endeavored to impress on his followers on the occasion of the feeding of the multitude,—that they themselves had power to satisfy the needs of their fellow men? He said, "Give ye them to eat;" and when the disciples failed to understand his meaning, he blessed the loaves and fishes and gave them to the disciples to hand over to the multitude, showing how the humble earnest student can be a channel for good when his work is blessed by the Christ. Whatever we possess, when recognized as a gift from God, can be used to bless those around us as well as to benefit ourselves.

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"Before they call"
November 8, 1919

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