“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’ So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people” – John 6:13 (NLT)
In this very familiar passage – the only miracle that is mentioned in all four Gospels – Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five small, flat cakes of barley (the cheapest of grains) and two small fish (probably pickled fish served as hors d’oeuvres). After everyone had enough to eat, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather the leftovers, filling twelve large baskets, “so that nothing is wasted.”
This story is a great picture of our God who not only provides but also over-provides, and by doing so teaches us not to waste the over-the-top supply. This passage challenges me to ask, “What am I doing with my extras?” Specifically, what am I doing with my extra time, treasure and touch? And every person I know has extras in at least one of the areas, if not all.
Time – What do I do with my extra hours? Do I spend it working more so I can earn more? Do I use my extra time to watch more television? After the people ate and were satisfied, Jesus likely distributed the extra for the blessing of many. On the other hand, I like to picture twelve grown men marching behind a young boy and delivering the baskets to his family in Capernaum. Jesus produced the over-abundance but He shared the results. Am I using the blessing of my extra time to be a blessing to others, or am I finding extraordinary ways to waste it on myself?
Treasure – What am I doing with my extra money? After I’ve tithed, paid my bills and put a little away in savings, what am I doing with the rest? Am I spending it on what is not bread and laboring for stuff that does not satisfy (Isaiah 55:2)? Do I have to have that latest iPhone? Does it satisfy? Is the newest Wii game something my soul will delight in? Is it the richest of fare? Where my treasure is, there is my heart, also (Matthew 6:21). Do I pay more attention the bells and whistles of my latest gadget than I do to maintaining my relationship with my family? Do I know where the games apps is on my phone but don’t know where my child spent the night? If I’m quicker to get angry at someone who has scratched my car than someone who uses a racial slur, I’ve just shown my heart is with my stuff, even though God’s heart is with His people.
Touch – Am I stingy with my personal self? Do I have a limited amount of hugs and affection I can share with people? Do I seek out the people I want to be associated with and withdraw from the unlovely or unpopular? Am I cold with someone who has recently criticized me and overly enthusiastic towards someone who likes me? Do I coddle up to the rich man in church and compliment him on his new Mercedes Benz while giving monosyllabic answers to the poor man who smells of stale cigarettes?
When I look at my life, I can see waste in every area I’ve mentioned. But as I think about the twelve baskets of leftovers and how Jesus made sure they were picked up, I’m starting to have trouble with waste. I want God to show me creative ways of using my time, treasure and touch, and maybe some day He’ll choose me to bring a basket full of abundance to a family that needs it most.