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What a Waste

A businessman gives a few dollars to a homeless man. A woman passing by thinks, “What a waste. He’ll probably just buy liquor.”

A teacher spends extra hours reaching a difficult student, showing her she has more to offer than what others have told her. A cynical colleague thinks, “What a waste. She’s never going to do anything more than work at a fast food joint.”

A pastor sinks his small church family’s resources into providing a safe afterschool program for kids in their at-risk neighborhood. Some congregants think, “What a waste. We could be using those funds to beautify our building.”

Wherever we do good and show love, we show Him. God has never and will never see it as a waste. In fact, it’s how we are to live our lives and conduct ourselves.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” –James 4:17

I’m sure we’ve all experienced when we made an excuse when there was an opportunity to show love then the next one came and the voice was a little softer. The more ignoring we do, the more the cynicism and apathy grows until we’re decrying all the “waste” that the others are propagating while we clench everything we’ve got in our fists for dear life.

From Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

What would happen if we began to see every good act as strategic? And not because of our strategy and manipulation, but because God honors it?

The more we cultivate goodness and love in our lives, despite our feelings or predispositions, the easier it becomes to make it an everyday thing. The more we indulge the sin, pride, and cynicism in our hearts the more we become like a dog shaking a porcupine in its mouth.

In both cases, however, we see exponential increase. I agree with Mr. Lewis, once we do good for someone it’s hard not to like them more or at least, dislike them less. I have advocated for years in praying for fellow church members or work team members because it’s impossible to genuinely pray for someone and still hate them (no, ‘sick ’em, Jesus’ prayers here).

Ultimately, the only good that doesn’t produce fruit is the good left undone. As our hearts and motivations sway to His grace, not one act of obedience or kindness is a waste.

Have you seen this in your life? Does kindness beget more kindness, love–more love, and so on? What do you think?


This is the part of our book club discussion on Week 19 of Mere Christianity (disclosure) by C.S. Lewis. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for the widget and another great take. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please share your thoughts! We always appreciate a vibrant conversation.

28 Comments

  1. I believe God loves a cheerful giver (of time, energy, talent…) and will bless that which is given out of the overflow of the heart.

    I’ve heard before that my giving just enables alcoholics, but Jesus never said give to the deserving poor. He never put those stipulations on it. He told me to give. I give. What they do with the money I give, what my students do with the time I give, what the community does with the initiative I put forth, that’s between them and God. I’m only responsible for (and glad to be) giving.

    • Absolutely! I’m responsible for the giving. There’s wisdom involved, but not my wisdom (aka excuses). Thanks so much Kristin.

  2. Love it Jason. Amazing post.

    I do believe that love, compassion, grace, and mercy are contagious. That’s how the Kingdom of God spreads. From the inside out, like a mustard seed, like yeast, like a virus -- but a good one that you want to catch!

    I love that quote from Lewis, so powerful.
    Ryan Tate recently posted..The CrowdsMy Profile

    • It’s incredible, isn’t it? His Kingdom can’t be stopped and we get to be vessels. Thanks for the great thoughts, Ryan.

  3. “it’s impossible to genuinely pray for someone and still hate them ”
    Well said, Jason. When I was in college, I told the priest in confession (I’m allowed to tell, he isn’t 😉 ) that I hated a classmate. My penance was to pray for him every day until my heart changed. (No, “God, make him less annoying”, was allowed. I had to actually pray for his well being.) Yes, I changed. Then, believe it or not, this person’s attitude toward me changed! Anyway, I just wanted to “second” that observation of yours! 🙂
    Helen recently posted..The Packing is Over….My Profile

    • It’s really true! And the basis of it all is that we can’t change anyone but ourselves (and really we’re just trusting Him for the change anyway). Worrying, complaining, whining, backbiting, etc. does nothing to change anything, but loving does. Thanks for the great story and seconding my thoughts, Helen! 🙂

  4. One strp, one small step. And then it grows. Kinda like faith. Good post, Jason.
    Glynn recently posted..The Most Important Poem of the 20th CenturyMy Profile

    • Absolutely. Really appreciate it, Glynn.

  5. “Ultimately, the only good that doesn’t produce fruit is the good left undone.”

    I love that line for so many reasons -- but mostly because as long as we’re doing good in the name of Christ, it WILL produce fruit. It’s only when we choose not to do good that we see no fruit. Very powerful.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Finding My RhythmMy Profile

    • That’s the key to remember! Thanks so much, Jason.

  6. I’m sure that the perfect approach to any situation would be to give way to the innate goodness of mankind. In many cases though the greatest gift is that randam act of kindness that you know “you” went out of the way for and it makes no difference to you if anyone knows or not. That homeless man is there every week and has the same sign and the same old military clothes patched and repatched. We still give to him because we think we will make a difference ,,a sucker we may be but a sucker that has presented to the world his best side. I have faith I help him.
    william Joiner recently posted..Chocolate FoolMy Profile

    • I don’t know about the goodness of mankind, but it definitely shows the goodness of God! I agree with you, William. We give in faith and trust God that it makes a difference in some way. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

  7. I love it and I totally agree! And for a second, I thought we had slipped back into The Hole in Our Gospel and started talking about being Christ to the world. But I’m okay with that. 🙂

    • Yeah, I can use that reminder over and over. So much vying for attention and trying to steal focus. I still like how one preacher put it, that everywhere we go we’re “leaking the kingdom.” It’s the not the size or effort, but that God is involved in all of it. Thanks Sarah.

  8. I love this post because it provides perspective. The smallest things matter and can have the largest impact for the kingdom especially when the world becomes more selfish and are more concerned with self-gain. Another thing that can happen here is if we continue to care about these small things, the people that in the beginning turn their noses up at it find themselves beginning to care more. It is just a win-win situation and all for the kingdom of God.

    • That’s it! You nailed it, Naomi. Thanks so much.

  9. Those small acts bring me to mind of messages written, curled into bottles, and tossed into the sea.

    We never know where they’ll return to shore…but we send them anyway.

    • Great analogy, Sheila! We send them out in faith, trust God for the results. Thanks.

  10. I know the kindness shown to me by a family that I just moved next door to (when I was 7) led me to a faith in Christ. That kindness is what I try to pass on everyday.

    Thanks Bro’
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..Because you need to know (Repost)My Profile

    • Wow, Jay. It truly is His kindness that leads to repentance. That is awesome. Thank you, Jay.

  11. I so needed this reminder. I work/serve as a housemom at a children’s home and so often get bogged down under the weight of those little kindnesses that don’t ultimately seem to lead anywhere when working with such deeply troubled kids. Reading this today I was struck by the reminder that my kindnesses to them are the love I am commanded (and privileged) to give them, regardless of where those acts of kindness lead eventually, for them or for me. Thank you for sharing this.
    Cara @ WhimsySmitten recently posted..Nothing. Something. Miracle.My Profile

    • Bless you for all you do, Cara. I know a little bit about thankless jobs, but that would be a whole new level I’m sure. Thanks for coming and sharing--much appreciated!

  12. “Wherever we do good and show love, we show Him.”

    This is how I want to waste my life--by showing Him.

    Wonderful post, Jason.
    Sandra Heska King recently posted..Window on Writing: Where I’m FromMy Profile

    • The world may mock and misunderstand, but I’ll gladly waste my life on Jesus! Thanks so much, Sandra.

  13. Clicked over from High Calling. Yes! What seems a waste can be the seeds of the kingdom growing in me. I just wrote a post today on finding beauty in everyday life, at the end realizing I felt the need of permission to waste time and money on beauty, joy, thanks, and praise. Your post is timely, and right on. Thanking God for you…

    • Learning and growing-- that’s what it’s all about! Thanks so much, Beth.

  14. “What would happen if we began to see every good act as strategic? And not because of our strategy and manipulation, but because God honors it?”
    Great word for today. I needed it!
    Found you at THC.
    Brooke

    • Wonderful! Thanks so much, Brooke.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jason Stasyszen - Continuing our discussion of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis with today's post, What a Waste http://ow.ly/5OGpu
  2. Sarah Salter - RT @br8kthru: Continuing our discussion of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis with today's post, What a Waste http://ow.ly/5OGpu
  3. Jason Stasyszen - RT @sarahmsalter: RT @br8kthru Continuing our discussion of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: What a Waste http://ow.ly/5OGpu <<thanks Sarah!
  4. Helenatrandom - RT @br8kthru: What a Waste http://t.co/EOTjeZl
  5. Jason Stasyszen - RT @helenatrandom: RT @br8kthru: What a Waste http://t.co/EOTjeZl <<Thanks Helen :)
  6. Jason Stasyszen - New Blog Post: What a Waste http://ow.ly/1dZhYY
  7. Glynn Young - What a Waste, new post by @br8kthru at Connecting to Impact. http://bit.ly/pXOSp8
  8. Jason Stasyszen - RT @gyoung9751: What a Waste, new post by @br8kthru at Connecting to Impact. http://bit.ly/pXOSp8 <<thanks so much, Glynn
  9. Jason Stasyszen - Ready to add your thoughts on today's post? Check it out: What a Waste http://ow.ly/5P6Jz
  10. Brooke Cooney - Read this post from Connecting to Impact - What a Waste http://t.co/abMWqq6 #kindess #goodness
  11. Jason Stasyszen - Thanks so much for link love @LBrookeCooney on my post - What a Waste http://t.co/abMWqq6 -much appreictaed. :)

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