"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is Value?

By Micky Wolf

A recent purchase at the grocery store raised my ire. And then some. Yep, on the emotional continuum the ‘feelings’ with this experience registered high-irritation.

By any measure my beloved and I don’t eat much in the way of chips and snacks, primarily because they really aren’t that healthy and it is true—you can never “eat just one”. On the other hand, we have managed, over time, to find some brands that aren’t mostly cholesterol laden sugar bombs of blood-bashing destruction.

Having done our homework, we thought we had found a happy balance of nutrition, taste, and cost—until we realized the manufacturer had, without notice and quite abruptly—reduced the content weight [size of the bag is irrelevant] by thirty percent and the price by about eighteen percent. Hmm…an interesting math concept for sure.  And don’t get me started on ice cream containers and quantities, especially if you are hoping to enjoy real ingredients and not some concoction and formulation of who-knows-what chemicals and imitation flavors.

I’m an optimistic realist, but the fact of the matter is true—downsizing and up-pricing have been going on for some time in this country. I’m also aware the “good old days” are mostly old and not as good as the actual reality. Nevertheless, I can’t help but believe we have become so driven by the bottom line that we are sacrificing quality and value on the altar of ever increasing revenues and stockholder profit margins.

This whole idea of value has prompted me to consider the implications for the Christian journey. I found myself pondering the question, “What kind of value do I have to offer?”

Not about worthiness…

For starters, we cannot get distracted with wondering; are we worthy? Are we good enough? Are we producing enough? The truth is, we will never be “worthy” from the world’s perspective. Living a Christ-centered life is based on Love—loving God and loving others as ourselves. In our own strength we are incapable of living this kind of life, apart from cooperating with God’s mercy and grace. Any ‘value’ we have to offer will always be in our personal choice in giving our ‘yes’ to receiving the fullness of that Divine grace.

Our worthiness resides in the beauty and simplicity of the will of God. He created you and me in His image and likeness. And because God is Love, He literally loved us into being. That kind of creative Love cannot be measured or defined by human understanding.

Value that is hidden…

Although the chip manufacturer made no announcement [why would they?] of reducing the amount of snacks in the bag, any astute shopper would soon get the message. They knew full well the choice that was made for the sake of maintaining or increasing profits. They are also banking on the fact the average consumer will not notice the change, or simply grumble a bit and continue buying the product.

From a Christ perspective, we do carry hidden within us the treasure that is the Spirit of God. However, there is an important difference—the treasure, or value of the Divine Indwelling, manifests through our words, thoughts, emotions, feelings and actions. It doesn’t take long for anyone to know what we consider of true value because it will be our walk that matters and impacts others, far beyond any talking we could ever do. People do notice how we behave, as well as our attitudes.

Value is beyond measure…

Because we are a culture and society that places importance on quantifiable outcomes, it is easy to slip into a similar mentality and belief system as a Christian. Falling prey to this kind of thinking sets us up to believe that if we hold back—our love, our riches, our time, our talents—we will in some way assure there will be plenty [for us] down the road. Like the chip manufacturer who reduces the quantity value, we may tend to ‘reduce’ what could be of value to someone else in the misdirected notion we will have more [profit] for ourselves. 

Nothing could be further from God’s truth:

As long as we remember to give from a heart of love, regardless of whether or not we receive anything in return, God is more than willing and able to return to us the measure with which we measure. If we measure short or small? We can count on a similar gift. If we give as freely and generously as we can at any given moment? We can be assured not only our cups, but our laps, will be overflowing with all kinds of blessings!

When we have a clear sense of our worth and value in He who has breathed life into our being; when we begin to realize the vast and unlimited resources we carry as countenanced from the storehouses of God; when we understand that the value of our life to others is the living manifestation of the Christ who indwells our hearts—value becomes truly meaningful in terms of the Divine Economy. What a difference!

The next time you go shopping, take note of what you pick up before you toss it in your cart. You may decide to choose another brand for the purpose of receiving as much value for your dollar as possible. In the meantime, let us be thankful God views quantity from a much different perspective, one that is more concerned with a measure that is good, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing!

How do I feel about my worthiness?

Do I embrace the value of He who indwells my heart?

How do I measure value and giving?

What holds me back from giving a good measure?

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