Was Jesus a tightwad?

It seems that many Americans think the defining indicator of financial security is your lack of concern for waste.

You can see it all over our culture with movie stars spending $30,000 on a designer handbag to carry their dogs in, or in the rock-n-roll lifestyle where music videos clearly portray the idea that ”money is no object,” often times in a competition of who can have the most gold chains or throw the most cash in the air.

Luke 12:48 explains that “to whom much has been given, much is required.”

For me, this translates into working to minimize waste in my life. I know everyone’s definition of waste is different, but most can agree that we know waste when we see it in our own lives.

In John 6:12 (AMP), after Jesus just miraculously turned a few loaves of bread and fish into enough food for 5,000+ people, he said to the disciples ”Gather up now the fragments (the broken pieces that are left over), so that nothing may be lost and wasted.”

So was Jesus a tightwad?

No, Jesus wasn’t a tightwad. I think he was teaching the disciples a lesson here.

They may have been thinking, “oh, we don’t need to pick this up because Jesus can just make us as much food as we need, whenever we need it.”

Well, yes Jesus could.

But clearly He was trying to show us the value of not wasting, even when it comes VERY EASY, and when there is a whole lot of EXCESS.

What about Judas?

On the other hand you have Judas criticizing Mary with the Alabaster jar for her extravagant (and “wasteful”) act of pouring all the oil on Jesus’ feet.

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

-John 12:3-5 ESV

Jesus could have easily agreed with Judas, but instead Jesus defended Mary’s actions as being appropriate.

At first glance, this seems like a pretty stark contradiction.

The way I personally have reconciled these two passages is that I have chosen to be as extravagant as possible when giving to others all the while reducing wastefulness when it is for myself.

What do you think? Join the conversation in the comments below.