Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE GIVING CHILD”

John 6.5-14 

I want to spend some time challenging you folks about your parenting. However, before we deal with the issue of parenting, let us first address this issue of living life as God intended it to be lived. But before we do that, let us consider some things we will all agree about at the outset. Are we all agreed that each of us had to be trained how to use the potty? Are we all agreed that each of us had to be trained how to read and write? Are we all agreed that each of us had to be trained how to drive an automobile? Few of us would naively insist that such skills come naturally and that training was not required for mastery in each of these areas of life. Are we not also agreed that unsaved people do not know how to live, that their priorities are upside down, and that their approach to life is woefully misguided? If you are not persuaded that unsaved people do not know how to live, and that their priorities are not upside down, and that their approach to all aspects of life is misguided, you are probably not a Christian. As well, you have a serious pride problem. I say serious because God resists the proud and gives grace only to the humble, James 4.6 and First Peter 5.5.

For those of you who are Christians, you will recollect that at some point in your past you were brought by God to realize that not only were you headed in the wrong direction, with a terrible destiny awaiting you but that you as an individual were in the wrong. That realization is crucial to one’s well being, that not only is a lost person heading in the wrong direction, but the reason that person is heading in the wrong direction is he is the wrong person. Dead in trespasses and sins.[1] Alienated from God and is, in fact, His enemy.[2] Blind to the truth.[3] Without hope because of being without God.[4] Possibly having reached the point of being turned by God over to a reprobate mind.[5] I could go on, but you get a general idea.

The reason the Great Commission begins with the words, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” is because informing and instructing plays a significant role in providing a remedy for what ails every sinner. What does the sinner not know? The sinner does not know God. The sinner does not know Christ. The sinner does not know the Gospel. I could go on. So, we admit that ignorance is a factor in the solution to one’s sin problem. After all, the Philippian jailor did ask, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”[6] As well as being lost, he was ignorant. And before him, the assembled multitudes who heard Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”[7] So, it is clear that instruction must be provided to the lost as a means of them coming to know Christ and being saved from their sins. There is important stuff the lost simply do not know no matter how often they have attended Church services or how much they have read the Bible, though pride is an obstacle to admitting that this is true.

Adjusting our focus a bit, so that we can consider the Christian now instead of the unsaved person, we once more need to take note of the need for instruction. Only now we address the need for a Christian’s instruction. After all, what is it about the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life that automatically translates into knowing how to live the Christian life one has received through faith Jesus Christ? Have you ever numbered how many times the phrase “Know ye not?” is found in the New Testament alone? Thirteen times.[8] And in Peter’s explanation of Christian growth and maturity in Second Peter 1.5-7, have you ever taken notice of the importance of adding to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge? Why must knowledge be added in the Christian’s life? Because Christians do not know how to live the Christian life when they become Christians and they must learn. Learning takes diligence and time, though, again, pride is often a barrier to admitting this.

Why do you suppose the Great Commission ends with a verse that begins with the words, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”? It’s because once a person becomes a Christian that individual might have a new destiny, and might now know how to become a Christian through faith in Jesus Christ, but that individual still has no idea how to live the Christian life. That is where discipleship comes in. That is where Bible preaching comes in. That is where Bible teaching comes in. Personal devotions and individual Bible reading also play a role.

Therefore, if you now know Jesus Christ as your Savior you have to be trained to live the Christian life. Not just taught, mind you, but trained. And if you plan to marry you then need to be trained to be a husband or a wife. How many Christian husbands and wives show the need for this training by the lousy marriages too many believers needlessly endure as they learn to sort things out? Then there is parenting. How are Christians supposed to raise children? Should you raise your kids the way you were raised? Really? And your moms and dads trained you to live for God how? And to be a godly spouse how? And to be a mom or dad who pleases God how?

The problem with many Christians is that they recognize that they do not know how to live the Christian life following their conversion, but assume they somehow have a handle on this marriage thing and this mom and dad thing. Really? Are you sure about that? Does what the Bible shows to be God’s will for parents raising their children reflect your parenting philosophy and pattern of child rearing? Can you point out in the Bible where your parental guidelines are to be found? I say this because good parenting is not at all intuitive. Ever observe the ferocity some moms demonstrate at the suggestion they might not know what it is to mother a child in a way that pleases God?

In a moment we’re going to turn to a New Testament passage that records a great miracle performed by the Lord Jesus Christ, using something that had been given to Him by a little boy. What is my goal in doing this? I first want to challenge the assumption that most well-intentioned parents unconsciously have about their parenting skills. And once I can persuade you that parenting skills are crucial and every mom and dad need to set their sights on improving whatever skills they already have, I next want to show you how to then do many things by first showing you how to do one thing.

To begin, I want to challenge you parents to begin training your children to give to the Lord. I want you to envision what kinds of things can happen in a person’s life that has been trained since childhood to honor the Lord, to worship the Lord, to be a co-laborer with the Lord, and to give his best to the Lord. Once you have achieved success at this, you can subsequently address another character trait, and then another, and then another, until your child reaches adulthood. But you have to start somewhere, and since I am charged by God’s Word with equipping you for service to God, as a Christian, as a spouse, and even as a parent, Ephesians 4.12, this is where we will start.

I was an extremely selfish little boy. The contrast between my generous and benevolent little brother and me was easy for everyone who knew us to see. So I often wonder what kind of man I might have become, what kind of man I might now be if my parents had taught me to give. Don’t misunderstand me. My mom and dad were dedicated and determined not to raise a selfish little Scrooge. They always harped on me and swatted my behind and gave me an ear full in an attempt to persuade me to do on my own what I should have done with my possessions. However, I never was generous with my fellow man because I never was generous with God. And not being trained to give to my Creator, how in the world could I have been expected to be generous with my fellows?

In John chapter 6 we read about a little boy who gave to the Lord Jesus Christ. My text is John 6.5-14: 

5  When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

6  And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

7  Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,

9  There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 

Let’s do two things with this passage, concentrating on the activities of the lad, first, and then the Lord: 

First, LET’S SEE WHAT OBSERVATIONS CAN BE MADE 

Take note as we make five observations:

First, an observation about the place the boy was at. The lad was where the Lord Jesus Christ was. Folks, this is quite significant. How many children normally gather around the things of the Lord? Oh, I know that we have a bunch of kids around Calvary Road Baptist Church, but we have nothing in comparison to the actual number of kids who are out there. Obviously, the lad was in the right place. But I am somewhat surprised that he was there and so close to all those men. Aren’t you? And the more so since Andrew’s exact words in Greek indicate that he called attention to the fact that there was one little boy, almost as if he was the only boy around: 

“There is a lad here.” 

Second, an observation about the provision the boy had. It’s a wonderful thing that he had five loaves and two fishes. But what’s going on here that only this little boy has food with him? Either this is the only person among thousands who remembered to bring a prepared lunch, or he is the only one of those who brought food who didn’t selfishly eat his food while allowing those without to do without.

Third, an observation about the perception the boy possessed. How was it that this little boy saw the others’ need of food? Aren’t little boys usually concerned about nothing but playing as hard as they can, with typically little attention to those things going on around them that have to do with grown-ups? I realize that on occasion little children are quite sensitive and perceptive about some things. But the fact that such occasions are so prominent in our minds is a testimony to the fact that youngsters are usually quite self-oriented and unaware of those things that don’t directly affect them.

Fourth, an observation about the presentation the boy made. Do you think Andrew walked up to the little boy and said, “You with the food. Come with me”? As foolish as our Lord’s disciple’s sometimes were, I don’t think Andrew would have done that. Do you? Though not expressly stated, it’s rather a foregone conclusion that the lad initiated the giving of his food to the Lord. But, again, rather unusual for a lad to walk up to Andrew and offer his food. Don’t you think? Especially since they were way out in the middle of nowhere, according to Mark chapter 6, and food was simply not to be had. But present his food the lad did, setting the stage for a great miracle to be performed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Fifth, an observation about the power the boy observed. The little boy, and few others knew what amount of food the Lord had to start with. How many besides him and the twelve knew the precise details of the situation, we do not know. So he was aware of the magnitude of the Lord’s demonstration of power. And it’s likely that few of those who were fed took notice of the enormity of what had happened. So, because of his place near the Lord, his provision that had ultimately come to him from the Lord, his perception of the need of the many, and his presentation of that food to the Lord, this little boy became a witness to that demonstration of God’s great power. And if we understand anything about God’s law of sowing and reaping, where did the twelve baskets of food go after the people had all been fed? Right. My guess is back to the little boy. Were his parents surprised when their lad and a couple of grown men brought all that food to them. 

Now, LET’S SEE WHAT QUESTIONS CAN BE ASKED 

But remember, we’re just asking questions so that we can learn some things and explain some of the actions of the little boy.

First, would the boy have been at that place without his parents? Folks, the countryside of that region was a dangerous place for a little boy to be by himself, even with throngs of people. There is no way that little boy could have been alone in the midst of so many strangers and had responsible parents. What is likely, so likely that it appears to have gone without being said, is that one or both of the boy’s parents brought him there. He is there because mom or dad or both are there. What a lesson there is in this, parents. The lad is in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, not because his parents sent him, but because they brought him into proximity to the Lord. Likely as not, his parents were responsible for him being in the place of blessing in the first place. His opportunity to do right was, therefore, ultimately given to him by his parents.

Next, would the boy have the provision he had without his parents? The loaves and the fishes sound like a prepared meal, does it not? You don’t see people in that part of the world normally eating raw fish. And we know the barley loaves had to have been baked. By the way, the barley loaves tell us something about the little boy and his family. What do they tell us? As I said last week, they tell us that he was a poor little boy, from a poor family. Only the poor ate barley loaves in that region. Those who had any money at all ate wheat loaves. So, we have a poor boy that has food prepared for him by his mom. Not much in the way of fine food, but prepared for him by a mom who loved him to go forth with the fish that had been broiled for the boy’s evening meal. Let’s take stock. So far we have parental involvement extremely likely, though not directly stated. He was where he was because of his parents. And he had what he had because of his parents.

Third, would the boy have perceived what he did without his parents? To explain the boy’s actions, it is hardly likely that he was unaware that the multitudes were out in a desert place, far away from food. What is unusual is that he was aware of the need of the multitudes. But he had to be aware of their need to behave the way he did. And I know that there is the unusual child who comes along from time to time who has heightened sensitivities to various things. But, by and large, who are the people responsible for a child’s awareness of the needs of others? His parents. Everything this lad has done shouts of parents who are poor, but who do not bellyache and bemoan their poverty. Rather, I envision a mom and dad who thank God for their provision and who are keenly aware, as only the poor can be, of the sufferings of those around them. What this lad saw, and how he saw it, is the result of the influence of his mother and father, a mother and a father who intended to influence their child in that way.

Fourth, would the boy have presented what he did without his parents? Think about little children. I know that when they are in a good mood and are well fed, they often love to share what they have with others. I was always delighted that Sarah was that way and still very much is. But when there is little, and when there is hunger, how likely is it that a child will forego his meal for the benefit of others? And how smart does a kid have to be to figure out that five loaves and two fishes are not going to feed 5000 men? Where did this little boy come to understand that things turn out okay when you give what you have to the Lord Jesus? Doesn’t this type of perception usually come from the home? Can’t you hear a mother’s comments to her child, or a father speaking to his son about generosity? I have no trouble seeing a poor mom and dad prayerfully giving to the Lord, and receiving back from the Lord with thankfulness and joy. And I see them conscientiously training this lad, so he will understand that giving to God is the right thing to do, so the lad will come to understand that God can be trusted with what we give to Him, using the example of the widow from Zarephath giving to Elijah as an example, First Kings 17.

Fifth, would the boy have seen the power of God (that he certainly saw) without his parents? Everything this lad did, from being in the presence of the Lord, all the way to his personal decision to present what little he had to the Lord Jesus Christ, is the result of conscientious and intentional godly parenting. To be sure, many a godly mom and dad have done their best only to have a child act in a selfish and spiteful way. Children are not computers to be programmed. But since the child’s propensity is to do wrong, he cannot do that which is right unless and until he has been trained to do so, usually by godly and intentional parents who understand their task before God. I submit to you that this lad was trained, among other things, to give to the Lord, by his parents. 

As I mentioned earlier, I was an extremely selfish little boy. I am grateful that God renews the mind. I am also delighted that Sarah learned what we attempted to teach her and she enjoys sharing what is hers with others. The word “share” is a really important word to her. And she has always looked forward to putting money in the offering basket. I think the two go together. One of the differences between the way I was raised and the way Sarah was raised is in giving to the Lord. Her mom and dad always gave to the Lord, and we showed genuine excitement and enthusiasm whenever she gave as we directed her when she was little.

So, think about your little child’s pattern of giving to the Lord. Do you want your child to honor the Lord as an adult? Then teach that child to honor the Lord as a child. And if your child was raised without being taught to give to the Lord, I am convinced you owe your child an apology. Such an apology might be the first step in building a bridge that will lead to your grown child’s conversion. And, just as importantly, do you want your child to see the power of God? Then get that kid as close to the Lord as a parent can give provision that you will allow that child to give to the Lord and others, strive to develop the child’s proper perception of things going on around him or her, and then encourage him or her to present what is theirs to the Lord. If the pattern is repeated, as I believe it will be, your child will see the power of God demonstrated.

To help train your kids, I want you to consider taking offering envelopes home and having your child give something to the Lord every Sunday using the offering envelopes filled out under your direction. Then, make sure, when we celebrate a great victory or a great blessing from God, that you remind your child that he or she had a part in that victory through their giving.

I remember telling my girl, when she was five years old (because I wrote it down), “Sarah. People were saved through our Church ministry last week. You had a part in that, honey, through your giving to the Lord, just like daddy did.”

Dad, imagine saying to your boy, “Hey, son. Do you remember when you put your quarter into the offering for Samuel Rai, to help his ministry in Nepal? Well, numbers of people were saved as a result of his ministry. Aren’t you glad you helped him?” Folks, you can take the steps necessary to make sure that your little boy and your little girl are like the lad mentioned in John chapter 6. Your child can become a giving child. And that can be but the first step to you becoming a great parent, by recognizing that even if you are a Christian now, there are still so many things for you to learn about being a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife, that until you learn you will never be able to practice in your own life or teach your children.

__________

[1] Ephesians 2.1

[2] Romans 5.10

[3] 2 Corinthians 4.4

[4] Ephesians 2.12

[5] Romans 1.28

[6] Acts 16.30

[7] Acts 2.37

[8] Romans 6.3, 16; 7.1; 1 Corinthians 3.16; 5.6; 6.3, 9, 15, 16, 19; 9.24; 2 Corinthians 13.5; James 4.4

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org