A specific biblical phrase recently caught my attention. The Apostle John used it in his Gospel when telling about the miracle of the loaves and fish. For days now I have reflected upon it, prayed over it, and researched the context. In John 6, after the crowd had eaten their fill Jesus said, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12, NIV).
That intrigued me. Jesus instructed His disciples to collect what was left over so nothing would be wasted. I have learned that the entire miracle demonstrated Jesus’ divine power as being sent from God, and that He later called Himself “the bread of life” while teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum (John 6:35, NIV).
What was Jesus’ intent when He said, “Let nothing be wasted”? First, I think He meant it literally because the disciples dutifully collected the pieces of bread and fish that were left. (I wish John had recorded what Jesus and/or the disciples did with all the leftovers.) Matthew Henry’s commentary references a Jewish custom of not allowing any bread to be wasted after a meal. Collecting leftovers was customary.
Second, Jesus’ directive honored God’s abundant provision. Collecting what remained confirmed the Father had not only met the crowd’s physical hunger, but had met it beyond their basic need. Jesus is acknowledging to the disciples the goodness of His Father.
During the forthcoming seasons of Thanksgiving and of celebration of Christ’s birth, I want to experience a heightened sensitivity to all the ways the Father meets my needs. When I encounter the abundance of food, I especially want my heart to whisper a “thank you” as I envision the leftovers of the loaves and fish.
Father, show me how to be a good steward of Your daily provisions of food, clothing, and shelter as well as Your spiritual provisions encompassed in salvation and sanctification. No matter what need You are meeting, remind me to not waste one bit of it. Reveal to me creative ways to acknowledge Your grace. Prompt me to journal it for future generations, to post it on social media, or to share the story one-on-one as an encouragement to others. Most of all, remind me to pause to offer thanksgiving to You, the One who provided above-and-beyond my need.