Speaking the Truth in Love

It Can’t Be Done

Whenever a congregation commits to a new project, someone is usually on hand to point out why it cannot be done. The pessimist may be a dedicated Christian with excellent personal character, but he has no vision and thinks that the best way to prevent failure is to avoid risk. On one occasion the apostle Philip is guilty of this negative thinking.

The disciples are with Jesus in a rural area near the Lake of Galilee, where he is teaching a vast throng of people. They are so interested in hearing his words and witnessing his healing miracles that they are reluctant to go into the nearby villages to buy food, even if this means growing hungry and faint. Unwilling to send them away in this weakened condition, Jesus decides to multiply five barley loaves and two small fish, a little boy’s lunch. But first he tests Philip with a question: “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5).

Philip fails the Lord’s test. He tells Jesus that “two hundred denarii [“eight months’ wages” (NIV)] would not buy bread enough for each of them to get a little” (John 6:7). To Philip, the thought of feeding 5,000 men (not counting women and children) is ludicrous.

Philip, of course, is forgetting about Jesus. If the Lord wants a work done, he will provide the means. Paul says that “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. […] He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources” (2 Cor. 9:8, 10). Therefore, when church leaders with vision propose a bold new program or project, spiritually mature people look for ways to make it happen—not for reasons why it cannot be done.

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