By David Faust
Do you like leftovers? Do you adhere to the adage, “Waste not, want not”? Do you enjoy turkey sandwiches on the weekend after Thanksgiving? Do you warm up last night’s pizza in the microwave and eat it for breakfast? Do you ask for a box at the restaurant so you can take the leftovers home with you? Do you agree that soup tastes better the day after it’s made?
Or maybe you dislike leftovers. You insist on eating only the freshest of foods. If your family doesn’t consume the entire casserole, you throw it away, because no one will touch it after it’s been in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
The word leftover sounds stale and unappealing. The Law of Moses instructed the Israelites to give the firstfruits of their labors, not the scraps—to sacrifice the best lamb in the flock, not skimp by offering the scrawniest animal they could find. By tithing, we prioritize giving in our budgets because we recognize that the first 10 percent (not whatever happens to be left at the end of the month) belongs to the Lord.
However, the Bible also has some positive things to say about leftovers. The Law required farmers to leave some grain, olives, and grapes behind in their fields at harvest time. “Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:21)—a practical, compassionate way to provide for those in need. And remember what happened after Jesus fed the 5,000? He instructed his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12). They gathered up 12 baskets of leftover bread and fish, reinforcing the magnitude of Jesus’ miracle and teaching a lesson about good stewardship.
At first glance, the word remnant sounds as unappealing as last week’s casserole. Yet, throughout the Scriptures God promises to bless a righteous remnant of his people. Jeremiah predicted that faithful followers of the Lord would gather from all over the world, including “the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor” (Jeremiah 31:7-8). Zephaniah looked forward to a golden era when God would regather the remnant of Israel, including “the meek and humble” who “trust in the name of the Lord” (Zephaniah 3:12). The apostle Paul recalled how in the days of Elijah most Israelites had drifted into idolatry, but God still had 7,000 servants who had “not bowed the knee to Baal. So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:4-5).
What does God’s “remnant chosen by grace” mean to us? Here are three points to consider.
It’s a reminder about gratitude. We should be grateful that throughout history, God’s plans never have been thwarted and he has continued to pour out his grace—even if only a faithful few were willing to accept it.
It’s a reminder about faithfulness. No matter what happens, we must remain loyal to the Lord and persevere in faith and service.
It’s a reminder about courage. Even if the majority rejects the Lord and chooses a different path, we must be part of his faithful remnant, trusting God and following no matter where he leads.
Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Let’s do our part to ensure the answer is yes.
Personal Challenge: What practical difference does it make to be a follower of Jesus? If you were not a Christian, how would your lifestyle be different than it is now? How does your faith in Christ impact the way you approach your job, your relationships, your finances, your schedule, and your attitude about life?