Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Your money or your life #2: What money represents

Our dining area: nothing new in
this repurposed space, but it
represents a different direction for us
Last time, I wrote about "Whose money is it, anyway?" This time, I'm asking,
  • What does money represent? 
We gain a token of tangible value (money) in exchange for life, for hours spent working or services given. 

We never get those hours back. They've been traded for ----- well, for what? At the cost of our life-hours, we acquire shelter (rent/mortgage), food, the lust of our eyes ("wants" encouraged by advertising), and our appetites (including recreational pleasures like hobbies, sports, concerts, restaurant, excursions, and vacations).

Money itself has no real value. It is paper, ink, and coins that gather dirty fingerprints along their journey. It may be only a flash on the computer screen in an electronic transfer. However, it represents our earnings as a medium of exchange, our life swapped for stuff, goods traded for services, and a means to an end.
The Russian samovar, ready to be
rehomed. Bamboo floor samples
found in a box = a temporary counter

A few years ago I read Your Money or Your Life by Robin and Dominguez. Their premise was we barter our energy, hours, relationships, and personhood for stuff and experiences. The authors presented this stunning option: Before buying something, consider how many hours of your life you are willing to give up for it.

That revolutionized my spending. Was that bowl worth a half-hour of my life? Was the haircut and color worth three hours of my week (plus an afternoon in the hairdresser chair)? Was the meal out worth an hour of my husband's life? Sometimes the answer was yes. Many times I've forgotten to ask those questions and frittered away my time and energy. But that philosophy of money-for-life filters most major purchases.

Granddaughter K having tea
in the new space: she's worth
an investment in the future

No wonder Jesus talked so much about money. He said where our treasure is, our heart would be also. Is my treasure here? Or in heaven? As I've sold off and given away over half of our household in the last months, I marvel at what is left. We still seem have too much to dust, vacuum, and store.

What did you purchase last week (or month)? Were the hours of your life worth investing in these things? Did what you acquired - in goods, services, or relationships - provide the soul-satisfaction and meaning you expected? Did they make the world a better place for others? Did they spread the Good News of God-with-us? Why or why not?

What does your money represent? The way you spend or save your money reflects how you are investing your life - in transient or eternal ways. Think about it!

Read more:
*Do not plan harm against your neighbor who lives trustingly beside you. Proverbs 3:29 NEV

*For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NEV

*Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant. 1 Corinthians 13:4 NEV

*“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians15:55-58 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Passionate Lord, help us to live planting and sowing love. Do not harden our hearts but rather make them tender so we can live in peace and harmony with our neighbors and friends. Amen.

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