Too often it is the case that we focus on what is wrong with the world rather than what is right. That truth spans through various positions of criticism be it politics, economics, or faith. On the latter, I have often heard scoffers of faith (specifically Christianity) speak of the ill that Christianity has brought the world as a way of demeaning the religion. I must reject this notion. I cannot deny that evil men have taken the banner of Christianity and have done terrible things with its power, but Christianity has harmed no one. It cannot.
The purpose of this post, however, is not to defend the faith, but to point out the goodness of people. Frequently our attention is turned to those who choose to do wrong, who harm others, who work on behalf of evil. Not today. Below is a piece written by a girl that I know. She is getting married soon and keeps a simple personal blog. You will find the link to her blog at the bottom of the page if you choose to visit. I know many individuals locally who are doing a lot of good deeds: dentists who are giving free dental care in third world nations, couples who are building sanitary stations in similar nations, individuals who are packing lunches for kids at school for the weekend, others who purchased Christmas presents and made Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner for families who have incarcerated or dead fathers. The list goes on and on.
I’ll stop writing with this one last thought. Regularly I recall a time when I was a boy and I learned the difference between the usage of the words “good” and “well”. A teacher told some students to “do good”. He was corrected by one of the astute students who said, “Don’t you mean ‘do well’”? He simply replied, “No, do good”. And that is my suggestion to our readers. We can argue politics daily with fervency and zealousness with little to no impact. Selfless acts of goodness to other human beings are what will make real differences. It might not save the republic, but it might save that person – and then again, it might save the republic as well.
Last weekend, Brian and I decided to head to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to start our wedding registry. We were led upstairs to an office, where we were handed a binder filled with pictures of the various assortment of dinnerware the store offered. There were no prices, just pictures and their descriptions, and we were told we needed eight place settings of whatever set we chose.
I flipped through the pages for a moment and settled on a set I liked. I turned the book around to show the nice lady and to ask the price, and the nice lady said, “Oh, those are $88.”
“$88 for a set of 8? That’s not bad!” I replied.
“Oh no.” I think the lady was trying not to laugh. “$88 per place setting. Those are Vera Wang.”
The look on my face must have been incredulous, because the lady quickly added, “I know that sounds like a lot of money, but you’re getting married! You deserve it! It’s the one time to get anything you want for free.”
And so began our registry. We spent the next two hours being followed around, pressed to scan (literally) the most expensive item in each category, and pressured to meet a “scan quota” at every stop. When we politely tried to argue that we already had a perfectly good food processor, six cookie sheets, and a quality used set of mixing bowls, our objections were met with a smile and, “But this is your chance to get the best cookie sheets. You’re getting married – you deserve this!” The best suitcase? You deserve it! The best toaster oven? You deserve it! The best pots and pans? You deserve it!
We left the store, me nearly fuming and Brian feeling nauseous. As we looked over the $3,000 worth of items we had scanned, we failed to find more than one or two that were even reasonably priced – and we needed about half of what was on the list. I just shook my head as I reported to Brian that our dishes and the $9 cloth napkins the lady had added of her own accord would alone cost over $600. Six hundred dollars.
We cancelled the registry.
Two days later, God called us to sponsor two precious little boys. Meet Abishek and Akshay.
And suddenly, it all made sense. The reason why the registry made us sick and angry was because it was a waste. It was extravagant. Most of the items were unnecessary. And we realized with a heavy heart that it was all a lie.
We don’t deserve anything.
God gives us joy and material possessions, not because we deserve it, but because He is good. God is incredible. And you know what? He does deserve something. God deserves our praise and our giving, which He asks us to share with others.
Abishek and Akshay deserve our giving, deserve our sacrifice, because God has asked us to share with them. Brian and I want to give as much as we can because we want these little boys to know Jesus. We want them to know that God gives us grace only because He loves us, not because we deserve it.
Don’t you worry, we will still have a registry – just at Target rather than a specialty store. We will still have some things that we want more than we need. And I will still add my KitchenAid mixer because one day I will be out of nursing school and will actually have time to bake.
But most of the items on our registry won’t be the most expensive or the absolute best you can buy. We came to this decision not because of frugality, but because Brian and I don’t want to build our marriage on “stuff” (Did you know that money and stuff is the number one reason why couples get a divorce? Irony.). God tells us that marriage is about serving Him better together than we could alone, that marriage is a chance to see the most complete image of Him we can experience here on this earth. He says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” - Malachi 3:10
Brian and I want to build our marriage on God’s image of marriage, not man’s image of getting all the free stuff that you want. We want to honor God together. And we are starting by sharing Jesus’ love with two precious little boys.
And one day, if we get one, maybe God will even let me feed the homeless with my KitchenAid mixer.
Note: I added the link to the post for added linkage mojo.-Matt