Don’t Take Things for Granted

Gospel Message & Recording

What do we normally do with leftover food? We either store it away to be eaten later or throw it away. Whatever the case may be, we don’t treat it the same as we did when it first came out of the pot or oven. In other words, we treat the food differently, because now it has another classification. Its importance has changed. That is, the way we look at the food has changed.

In the Gospel reading today, we hear of Jesus feeding the five thousand. After the people are fed and satisfied Jesus requested his twelve disciples to collect the leftover fragments. Jesus treated the leftover fragments with care. He didn’t throw it away nor did he treat them differently. At least we don’t assume that the Son of God would do that! Jesus could have “taken for granted” that he created the bread and fish, then, asked his disciples to leave the leftovers behind or to dispose of them. But it seems (at least to me) that he valued what was left behind.

The point is this: we should treat the leftover in the same way as it was taken out of the pot or oven. We should not change how we see or treat the food just because it is classified as “left over.” Imagine if we were in a country where food was scarce. How would we treat the leftover? Would we look at it differently? Of course, we wouldn’t! In such a circumstance the leftovers might be more valuable since it would to continue to feed a family.

The problem is this: in our society, especially in America, we take things for granted. For example, we take for granted that we have food; and therefore, we don’t think twice about throwing it away, or teaching our kids to finish their plate. Paper plates, cups, napkins, spoons, knives, forks etc., are used without any regard for the environment. Why? Because we take for granted that we live in a clean and environmentally safe country. We will curse and make fun of our country (USA), while we enjoy the freedom to do so. Why? Because we take for granted that we live in a free society, unlike the rest of the world. These are but a few examples of  “leftover” mentality.

As Orthodox Christians, we should, however, be willing to appreciate and value everything that God has given to us.

It’s possible to catch ourselves when we take things for granted. Here are few things to look out for:

  1. Complaining: whenever we complain about how we don’t have a certain type of food to eat, or about our clothes, or about our homes, we should remember that we should not take for granted what we already have. We might complain about our job or our current circumstance in life, but complaining only makes things worse. Rather than complaining about the “leftovers”, look at it differently like Jesus did, and it gives the value that it deserves. The way you treat your leftovers speaks volumes about who you really are. Complainers are often angry. They are often frustrated by something or someone. All of this could have been avoided only if we viewed the leftovers differently and not taken them for granted.
  2. Stop wasting: When we eat, we should be keen to finish our food and not waste what the Lord has given to us. We should teach our children to finish their plate. This will help them to realize the value of food and consider others who have little to eat. If there are leftovers, we should treat that equally as freshly prepared food. Also, there are many people in the world who only have a couple of pants and shirts to wear. We should treat our clothes respectfully, knowing that the Lord has given it to us. Further, we should keep our homes clean, keeping in mind that the Lord has provided us with shelter. When we keep our homes unclean, we are telling God that we are ungrateful for what He has given us. We are, in turn, taking what he has given to us for granted.