How many containers of leftovers do you have in your frig? Are they sitting in Styrofoam boxes from restaurants or hanging out in plastic containers with the remains of homemade delights?
At our house “Leftovers Night” has always been popular. It’s a welcome break for me, the cook, and everyone enjoys picking and choosing from a smorgasbord of foods ranging from meatloaf and mashed potatoes to oriental noodles and lasagna. All I have to do is add a side of fresh salad and, “Voila!” dinner is served, the shelves of the refrigerator are cleared for the next round of leftovers and, hopefully nothing has been left to morph into something slimy, green or fowl smelling behind the dill pickles. Best of all – the food we thanked the Lord for at every meal has not been wasted.
But living with leftovers can be dangerous too. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports millions of cases of food poisoning each year. Most are mild, but thousands of others require hospitalization and some result in death. Another danger is found in badly prepared cooked foods that make us sick. If, like one of my daughters, you have ever suffered from a severe case of campylobacter from improperly prepared chicken or some other food, you know just how serious food poisoning can be. Any and all leftovers should be quickly refrigerated and always eaten within three to four days or frozen. Not sure if it’s been in the frig too long? When in doubt – throw it out!
As easy and delicious as leftovers can be, the most nutritious way to eat is to prepare fresh, wholesome foods and immediately consume them. When food is first cooked, it loses some of its nutritional value and loses even more when it is reheated. Living on leftovers is not a healthy way to live and it’s not a far stretch to see this as an illustration of the danger of living on spiritual leftovers.
“Think of the “spiritual meals” we consume as Christians. When we are first born again, we dig into the Word, attend Bible studies and go to church regularly—we “eat” everything we can get our hands on. Then we might go through a few years of living off that bountiful meal—until we get married. Wanting to begin our marriage on a strong spiritual basis, we’re back in church attending a couples’ Sunday school class or Bible study and get full again. Then, in a post-banquet doze, we stop taking in ‘fresh food.’ Until we’re asked to teach a class or lead a home group—and we pull up to the table again, tuck in our napkin and begin eating afresh.” David Jeremiah-Turning Point
It’s easy to begin living on the “leftovers” of spiritual periods or experiences that have energized us. But, just like our bodies, our souls need fresh, living food with which to be nourished. We need “daily bread” in the form of regular fellowship with Christian friends, regular attendance at worship and in a daily feeding from the Word of God that is, “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirt, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
If you’ve been living on “spiritual leftovers,” return to God’s pantry for a fresh serving of the Bread of Life.