And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:12 ESV)
The first 15 verses of John record the miraculous feeding of the thousands. According to the narrative of John, Jesus had performed more private miracles until this point, usually involving one person. In this episode however, Jesus reveals His power before the masses.
While a lot of attention has been given to the miracle itself and the mighty Hand of God to provide, and justifiably so, this morning the aftermath of the miracle caught my attention. I read the verse listed above a few times, and marveled at the example that Jesus gave us.
Nothing Christ did while He was on earth was by accident, including multiplying the loaves and fish into more than what was needed by the crowd at that moment.
Why was there more than enough? What do we learn about God and ourselves in the surplus?
Jesus gave us a great example of stewardship in this passage. He answered our question of how to care for what God has graciously provided for us. Knowing how much was needed for the day, He made more…
But more does not equate waste with God. The Lord accounts for everything He gives us. And He calls us to not only have our fill today but to carefully gather anything that’s left and store it away.
I can’t help but think that to the onlookers and even the disciples perhaps, the leftovers might have appeared like scrapes and nor worth the effort of collecting and storing them; particularly given that the miracle-maker, bread multiplier, was right in their midst. Surely if more was needed later on, He could bless the rocks and create more food to feed Himself and His followers. He was clearly God.
However this isn’t what Christ does and not what He, by example, taught us to do. He does not abuse His power or authority to call what is not into existence. Instead, He asks His disciples to conserve what they have already been given for future use. The surplus is a part of the blessing. As such, it should be treated with the same care we treat what was needed at the moment.
How applicable is this for us today? At this time of year when we both anticipate bonuses and gifts of various sorts and are blinded by sales, discounts and marketing ads wherever we turn, we have to remember these principles.
While God gives abundantly, He calls us to be good stewards of His provisions. We cannot spend frivolously because we anticipate that out of His lovingkindness the Lord will continue to bless us richly.
We don’t have to spend every dollar we earn, nor do we have to live as though manna will fall from heaven the next day regardless of how we treat our leftover fragments today.
I did not plan to write this entry at this time, but I’m glad this passage caught my attention today. It is a reminder to be a good steward with every blessing that I receive from the Lord, including those that come in the form of dollars and cents.
I pray it challenges you to do the same.