No Waste in Nature or Art
John 6:12-13
When they were filled, he said to his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.…

Nature is a rigid economist. In her household there is no waste. Everything is utilized to the utmost. The decay of rocks forms the soil of plants; and the decay of plants forms the mould in which future plants will grow. The sunlight and carbonic acid gas of past ages which seemed to be wasted upon a desert world, have been stored up in the form of coal for the benefit of man. The water that seems to be dissipated in the air descends in the dew and rain to refresh and quicken the earth. The matter that has served its purpose to one object goes by death and decomposition to form another object with a different purpose to serve. The materials which the animal kingdom receives from the mineral and vegetable kingdoms must be restored in order that they may be carefully circulated without diminution or waste over the whole earth. The gases that disappear in one form reappear in another. Forces are changed into their equivalents. Heat becomes motion, and motion heat. Nowhere is there any waste. In the ashes of every fire, in the decay of every plant, in the death and decomposition of every animal there is change, but not loss, death, but not waste. Everything is made the most of. The fragments of every product of nature are gathered up carefully and made to serve a useful purpose in a new form at nature's feast. Amid all her lavishness nature is very saving. The brilliant hues of flowers which the poet and artist love are not mere idle adornments, but have a practical purpose to fulfil. The beauty and fragrance which we so much admire appear only when the fertilization of the plant by insect agency is necessary; and when this task is accomplished, she withdraws them, as we put out the lights and remove the garlands when the banquet is over. In the most economical manner Nature gets her new effects not by producing new objects, but by effecting a few modifications upon the old ones; and when she makes a blossom upon an apple-tree she simply shortens and alters what would otherwise have been a common leafy branch; all the parts of the inflorescence of the commonest wayside weed, the bract, the calyx, petal, stamen, pistil, and seed, in spite of all their differences of form and colour, are but successive transformations of the leaf. Thus our Lord teaches us by the common processes of Nature the lesson of economy. In the sphere of human art we find that there is a growing tendency to economize materials. The distinguishing characteristic of our arts and manufactures is economy. Substances which our forefathers threw away are now converted into useful and valuable products. We extract beautiful colours from the dung-heap, and delicious perfumes and essences from the offal of the streets. Every day we are finding out more and more that nothing is useless; that even the waste and refuse of our manufactures may be turned to profitable account, and made to minister to the necessities or the comfort of man. By the work of our own hands, therefore, our Lord is teaching us the lesson of economy.

(H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

WEB: When they were filled, he said to his disciples, "Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost."

Love Enriches Itself
Top of Page
Top of Page