Although God’s resources are unlimited, His word records a basic principle of thrift.
In Old Testament times there was a custom of allowing the poor to follow behind reapers in order to pick up grain that was left behind. This is still practiced among some grain farmers. Even generous owners of vineyards may allow free access to their vineyards after their workers have gathered the grape harvest.
Illustrated beautifully in the story of Ruth, Boaz told her, “Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them” (Ruth 2:8-9).
Waste is the careless use or expenditure of goods for no purpose and is never commended in scripture.
On two separate occasions, Jesus publicly practiced this principle of stewardship.
After a day of ministering to a multitude, the disciples suggested Jesus instruct the people to leave so they could go into the villages and buy food. Instead, Jesus fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish – miraculously multiplying the food. After they had all eaten and were full, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers.
In a similar circumstance, Jesus fed four thousand men plus women and children with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. As before, after they were all full, the disciples took up seven large baskets of what was left.
We do not have the ability to multiply our resources. That is God’s prerogative. We can apply His principle of thrift and make the most of what we have – being careful not to waste what He has provided.
Jesus had a spiritual application in mind as well as the practical provision. When the disciples misunderstood His admonition to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and thought it was because they had forgotten to bring bread, His response was:
“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? – but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:8-11).