Is wasting food a sin in the Bible?
At some point in our lives, all of us have been scolded or spoken to because we wasted food.
Whether you didn’t want to eat your vegetables or just weren’t feeling all that hungry, you’ve probably had someone comment on how wasting food is a bad thing. However, is wasting food a sin?
What does the Bible say about wasting food?
What’s the problem with wasting food?
First, I think we need to ask an essential question: “Why would throwing away uneaten food be a bad thing?”
Have you ever asked that question to someone who spoke to you about wasting food?
If so, you probably got an answer similar to, “because there are so many people in the world who are hungry!”
While that may be true, you eating that food that you were about to throw away wouldn’t exactly put food into the mouth of someone living in poverty and hunger.
So then, what’s the point of not wasting food if it doesn’t practically solve the problem of hunger?
Truly, I believe the concept behind not wasting food is much more important than not wasting food in itself.
After all, consider what James says in his book. He points out that there is no point in speaking to someone with a need and saying nice things without actually fulfilling those needs.
If someone is hungry and you say, “Go and be filled,” without giving them any food, did you really help them? Of course not.
In the same way, if we speak about not wasting food as a campaign for the hungry, are we really feeding people in that way?
The answer to this is also a no.
Rather, what I believe the Bible finds much more important than whether you waste food or don’t is your heart for the poor and needy.
The Bible and the oppressed
Did you know that one of the most repeated commands in the Bible is to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves?
Specifically, the Bible often mentions orphans and widows as they would have been the most oppressed and helpless demographics in biblical times, but it also speaks about taking care of anyone who is needy.
For example, the Bible specifically talks about feeding the hungry, and in Acts 2, we even see the early church selling their possessions just to fill the needs of those that were within their reach.
Imagine if we did that today – if we all went and sold what we had so that we could fill the needs of those around us. What an amazing thing that would be!
Regardless, the Bible clearly shows that God has a heart for those who are in need. We should care about the hungry, but not throwing away a few pieces of broccoli doesn’t exactly accomplish that.
Instead, we need to be intentionally out in our communities, helping those who need it and feeding those who have no food.
As James says, we should take action on what we believe, not merely say things that have no practical merit in filling the needs that others have.
So then, does this mean that wasting food is no big deal as long as we are helping the hungry and feeding those who have no food?
While I think that practically helping those in need is much more important than wasting food, there is a deeper aspect to consider in this issue. That is the aspect of gratitude.
Say grace before every meal
I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to pray before each meal and give thanks for the food that God has provided.
Commonly, this is known as ‘saying grace’ before a meal, and countless people do this worldwide.
In fact, I’ve even seen plenty of non-Christians giving thanks before a meal.
I’m not entirely sure who they were thinking, but at least the sentiment was there!
Why do we do this?
It’s to remind us that all we have comes from God.
As Job said after he lost everything, “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
All that we have, from the food in our stomachs to the air in our lungs, is from the Lord.
This is why Jesus, when the disciples were worried about their needs being met, reminded them that the Lord takes care of even the birds that fly in the sky daily.
How much more will He take care of us?
My point is that the deeper issue at play in wasting food is whether you are grateful for what you have in the first place or whether you view what God has given you as something to be squandered without a second thought.
In fact, I find that most things in life are much more about the motivation and thought process behind them than the action itself.
For example, you could be a great leader in the Christian community, but that could either be a good thing or a bad thing.
It may seem like a good thing on the surface, but if you did it out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, Paul reveals to us that it’s a sin.
Things are not always as black and white as we’d like them to be.
As a result, we have to ask what our motivation is behind wasting food.
Do you waste food occasionally because you sometimes just aren’t hungry, or are you habitually wasting food because you always order or take more than you know you can eat?
Are you grateful for the food God has given you, or do you see it as something to be thrown away conveniently?
These are the questions that will determine whether you wasting food is a sin or not.
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Remember that God knows all things, including the intentions of your heart.
Instead of worrying about wasting food, rather focus on being grateful to God for the food that you have and fulfilling the needs of those who go hungry daily.
This surely will please God and honor Him, regardless of what has been thrown in the trash.
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