Junk for Jesus

When you hear a mission appeal, what items in your possession flash through your mental inventory?

When you hear a mission appeal, what items in your possession flash through your mental inventory?

I first heard about junk for Jesus from a former co-worker who had spent two years working in Haiti after that country experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010. My friend described part of her duties at the hospital where she volunteered—spending countless hours sorting through things in the donation room—a cavernous room half the size of a gymnasium.

People from around the world had emptied their attics, garages, medicine cabinets and closets to send donations to the disaster site. They sent things like band-aides that had lost their stickiness, decade’s old bottles of cough medicine, T-shirts with holes, electronic equipment that no longer worked, books with missing pages.

Volunteers on site spent endless hours sorting through the donations and tossing junk—junk for Jesus, evidently.

Recently, another friend at another mission received a discouraging phone call from a donor who expressed shock and concern that the mission had sent out a call for funds to purchase nice mountain bikes for the children in the community to use.  The project’s developers wanted to teach students the joy of exercising in God’s creation and the value of learning how to care for equipment.

The concerned caller’s attitude indicated that because the mission served the downtrodden, they shouldn’t ask for nice things for those they served—they should make do with castoffs and bicycles that needed repairs and investments of time and money. In other words—junk for Jesus.

Jesus calls us to give him our junk—our emotional junk, our spiritual junk, our illness junk, our petty misunderstanding junk and festering wound junk. Jesus wants our internal junk.

Nowhere in the Bible does it talk about giving our castaway possessions and the stuff that we don’t think is good enough for our comfortable lifestyle to those who we want to reach for God’s family (although there is a place for giving used things in good condition to support the gospel—but there’s a distinct line between junk and used).

Think about the widow who gave her last two mites. She gave sacrificially. Think about Mary who ‘wasted’ the equivalent of an entire year’s wages on a bottle of perfume—and then poured it out on Jesus’ feet.

Stories of those extravagant gifts of one’s last or one’s best made it into the Bible. When the offering plate passes in front of me, I often scramble for change in my pocket or a dollar bill in my purse. When the church committee asks me to teach a group of youngsters, I begrudgingly agree, because I feel obligated, but I then find myself unprepared when it comes time to teach or, even worse, resentful that I have to spend time preparing.

I’ve gotten pretty good at giving my junk to Jesus—the internal, hidden junk that he promises to heal. I have never given ratty clothes, old bottles of hydrogen peroxide and toaster ovens without the wires to any charity or mission effort. But, well, I’ve given junky efforts.

Do we spend our best efforts trying to solve our internal matters and our smallest efforts at working toward eternal matters? tweet it!

Do we hesitate to give sacrificially and extravagantly to missions and charities because we think that the recipients of charity don’t deserve the best? Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40).

Jesus doesn’t NEED my money or my perfume. But I want to give him my best for his least. (tweet it!)

I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and other inspiring writers to offer a little Coffee for Your Heart and Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • I heard one time that Mother Teresa said when we give away something that costs us nothing, we are simply taking out the trash (citation unknown). I am reminded of that every time I go to give something away. Is it valuable enough to me that it will be valuable and useful to another person? If not, it goes to the trash. I don’t think I can give away that which costs me nothing anymore.
    Holly Barrett recently posted…New and improvedMy Profile

    • I love that concept! I’ve started doing the same thing when I load up the car for the Salvation Army. A church group takes wish lists from the students at the school where I work each fall, and church members purchase and wrap as many of the items as they can and ship everything to our school. What a joy to see the wonder and excitement on kids’ faces as they unwrap their dreams (new, of course 😉 ).

  • Thank you Anita! This is so important and true. Jesus told us to follow his example and have the heart of a servant. I hope you have a lovely day.
    Jolene recently posted…Suprised By Motherhood- a book reviewMy Profile

    • And when we think of what Jesus gave…his very life…how can we begrudge the poor our very best?

  • I know Rob went to a food bank with the youth group recently and there was all this moldy food people had donated. Maybe there was a breakdown in transport or storage…or maybe junk for Jesus. Loved this post!
    Kirsten Oliphant recently posted…Scoring with ScoreBigMy Profile

  • How often do we just give Jesus what’s leftover in our lives – the money we have leftover in our budgets, the time we have leftover after all our other commitments, the pieces of our heart that remain after we’ve given to everyone else our lives. Great reminder that he wants (and deserves) our best.
    Kathryn Shirey recently posted…Prayer to Prepare Our Hearts [Holy Spirit series]My Profile

  • Such an important thing to think about! I want to give my best, mentally and physically. Not the junk.
    Laura Melchor recently posted…The Grapes of Wrath and Little HouseMy Profile

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