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 who had eaten from the five barley loaves. John 6:12-13 (NLT)
Another flyer arrived through my letter box. This one is from my local Council advising me to “Be a good elf” this Christmas by reducing my food waste. It states statistics such as:
- £680 is the average cost of food which each UK household throws away each year;
- 74 million mince pies are thrown out;
- and 17,200,000 Brussels sprouts end up in the waste bin.
The flyer is asking everyone to think twice before buying, and reduce food waste this Christmas.
In John’s Gospel, we read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 hungry people. The people had followed Jesus out of town to listen to His teaching and watch Him heal. They were all still there as mealtime approached. The disciples asked Jesus how He planned to feed the crowd, and Jesus miraculously produced enough food for the crowd from a boys’ small lunch of five loaves and two fishes. Once everyone was fed, it seemed the story would end, but Jesus had one more lesson to teach. He instructed the disciples to “gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted”. For some reason this detail caught my attention. What an extraordinary instruction; what an incredible contrast with the wastefulness of our time. Having miraculously provided this superabundance of bread, Jesus is deeply concerned that nothing should be wasted. Despite His ability to produce infinite resources, he made this startling statement.
I asked myself what I might be wasting (besides Brussels sprouts!) The answer came swiftly: I unthinkingly waste time and money – at times spending both in ways that benefit no one. I waste opportunities by failing to recognise the kairos moment or act upon situations ripe with potential to point those around me to Jesus. I waste my talents and spiritual gifts through neglect and laziness – trading my temporal comfort for eternal impact. Paul instructed:
Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Ephesians 5:11 (MSG)
Looking at the life of Jesus, I see intentionality and purpose in His every word, every interaction, every miracle, every healing, every provision. Zero waste; maximum impact. “Let nothing be wasted!” Let these words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus dwell in our hearts to admonish us and to teach us to wisely use what the Lord has put in our hands so that we have zero waste and make maximum impact too.