JESUS DIDN'T WASTE "LEFTOVERS"After the miracles of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, He instructed His disciples to gather up what remained and put it into baskets. They could have been large woven baskets used to carry crops from neighboring fields. Obviously, no paper bags or plastic available. Jesus was surely frugal. What was leftover was so much more in quantity than what they started out with. We are not told for whose needs those particular leftovers were used. They were not stale and certainly still nourishing.
Maybe Jesus left that decision to the disciples. They were accustomed to feeding the poor with some of the money that apparently passed through the hands of Jesus, which had been given to Him by other generous people for their daily provisions. We don’t find it recorded in Scripture that Jesus and His disciples were wandering mendicants begging for food.
We are told that a group of caring, generous, possibly women of means went along with them not only to hear His life-giving teachings, but to attend to their collective needs. They probably helped set up camp for them when they traveled on foot from village to village. We read that the disciples were instructed by Jesus to stop along the way and buy provisions at what would be some village market. We know that one of His eventually unfaithful disciples even held the position of treasurer for oversight of those funds. Then the faithful women followers would probably cook, serve, and do the cleanup.
As we advance in years, it is inevitable that many of our friends and family die and we feel like “leftovers” too. We can be sure that God still has His eye on us and His hand on our lives. He never leaves us or forsakes us. One way we can do so is to make ourselves available to spiritually nourish others through the experiences of life we have gone through with God’s help.
Spending or investing our lives?
During some early periods of our lives, we normally concentrated on making and spending money. Unfortunately, what came in often seemed to go out as fast as it was earned. Pockets seemed to have holes. As we approach our latter years we begin to think more seriously about saving and investing. Saving implies storing up to conserve what we have made; investing implies the expectation of certain returns. In our retirement years, shouldn’t investing our lives in some spiritual endeavor or someone in our orbit of life who is needy assume even greater importance than the mere investment of money to provide for our personal needs and comfort?
Buying up opportunities
One translation of the phrase “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5) is “to buy up the opportunity.” Many of us know people who, as they grow older, seem to be obsessed with buying material things. Sometimes it becomes out-of-control buying, collecting things, accumulating more of the possessions they already have, or better ones, larger ones, newer ones.
Only one talent left?
Suppose that when we have advanced in years, we find ourselves with only one talent left. A talent in the biblical sense stands for something for which we are to be responsible as stewards, not in the sense of some performing art or skill. In Jesus’ parable He showed us that we are responsible to use it not hide it away. We may be long out of the work force, even shut in or incapacitated in some way. God does not leave any of us without some means of being useful to Him and to please Him. It may be in an entirely different manner than when we were in the midstream of life and activity. But if we will use it, God will bless and multiply it.
Jesus is lovingly generous as well as frugal in His plans and provisions for his faithful, human “leftover disciple-children” in the late season of their lives. It is not too late for us—we are not stale and useless for God’s Kingdom building.