Take food for example. We grow most of the vegetables we eat and some of the fruit, but we don't harvest our own wheat and sugar cane and churn our own butter. We could, I guess, but that would mean choosing to spend a lot more time working for what we eat. Not that working for what you eat is a bad thing- it's not. But how much is too much for us?
So, we decide to go to the store or the farmer's market for our remaining food needs. More choices. Do I try to buy everything I can from local farmers? If I do, I will spend more money and may have to make trips around town to pick up raw milk, etc. I completely understand why small farms have to charge more and I'm happy pay them, but that extra money I'm spending on the food or milk could be given to those in need if I would just shop at the store.
So, I'm off to the store for some of my purchases. Which store do I head to? The small, non-chain store where I can't find everything and where they charge slightly more for certain items or a chain grocery store where they offer cheaper prices and one stop shopping? Cheaper prices means more to give, but what about those local businesses who need my support?
Once I decide which store to shop at, do I choose the organic options (of things I can't buy at the farmer's market) knowing that it's safer for my family and will encourage organic companies/farmers or go with the store brand so we have more money to share?
Choices, choices, choices.
And, that's just food.
What if I need some clothes? My options are ridiculous. There are the boutiques, the chain stores in the mall, the mega stores, the discount stores, and the thrift stores (not to mention all the on-line stores). Do I spend time and gas money driving to thrift store, then discount store, then mega store, then chain stores (I never make it to boutiques) because I couldn't find what fit me properly and was of good quality at the previous store? Does it really matter that it fits properly or is of good quality? I mean, I have clothes to wear. I should just be thankful for that, right?
What about gifts? Do I make my own gifts? Do I spend cash to buy handmade gifts to support friends? Or do I find less expensive gifts and give more to others? OR do I support mega sites like Amazon where I can use my Swagbucks and shop for free, using more saved money for the needs of others?
Do you see what I'm getting at? What's more important? Organic food? Local food? Cheap food? Clothes that fit properly? Reusing clothes? Handmade gifts? Less expensive gifts? Local gifts? Free gifts that lead to giving?
There are books lining the shelves of bookstores, articles in magazines, important people blabbing away on talk shows (and, dare I say, blogs?)...everyone everywhere seems to be telling us what to buy where, who to support, which way is best, what to avoid. All these choices have their own consequences. So, how does one decide?
You'd like me to tell you, right? I'd like me to tell me.
Dare I ask what would Jesus do? Okay, I won't (although it might not be a bad idea). But, I will ask you what you think the Bible has to say about it. From what I gather, we're to love God first, then love our neighbors (near and far) as ourselves. We're to take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the elderly, creation, and spread the Gospel (the Good News of Jesus).
That simplifies it, right? How we decide how much of our resources go where to support these commands is up to us and, hopefully, we are letting the Spirit lead us in this decision. But to hear the Spirit's leading, we have to listen, not just follow the latest trends. This making-choices-thing can't possibly be as complicated as I'm making it. I don't think it's God's intent to confuse us.
So, next time I need to make a purchase, I'm going to ask for guidance and try to listen very carefully. If you happen to see me standing in the aisle of the local grocery store appearing paralyzed, feel free to join me.
We can listen together.
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."Pin It
Matthew 22:37-40, NIV
Matthew 22:37-40, NIV