Have you ever noticed that people who will gladly pay five dollars for a smoothie at MacDonald’s, if transplanted to a yard sale, balk at the idea of paying the same price for a bicycle which needs an inner-tube? A one-time fast food fruit drink wins over a bike which with only a little investment would give years of exercise and enjoyment. It is hard to get past the fact that in order to buy an equivalent bike now would cost over one hundred dollars, to even listen to a person dither over spending five.
For the most part, when I find I am no longer using something I have purchased or been given, I don’t even consider a yard sale. If I don’t know someone who would like the item, to whom I can give it, I donate the items to Value Village or some other similar agency. They in turn sell the things for reasonably low prices and give some of the proceeds to charities such as the Diabetes Society. When my church is holding a yard sale I give any items I can to them and go and help out with sales.
Spread out over tables in the front lawn of the church were hundreds of items which at some point seemed vital to the people who bought them. The crock pot, the set of dishes, the book on learning Korean, at some point in time all passed the test of worthiness and got us to wedge open our wallets to make the purchase. Even worse, some of them probably went on credit cards so that years later we may still be paying them off. At the time we were convinced that those items were going to make our life better, more interesting, or easier.
Stuff…Comedian George Carlin has a famous routine about stuff and its vital role in our feeling of well-being. You may like to watch this routine/rant at http://youtu.be/MvgN5gCuLac but be aware that there is a little iffy language. His point, that we are obsessed with our stuff, is a good one. He calls our houses piles of stuff with a roof on them, and makes reference to storage rentals spaces as a whole industry based on guarding the stuff we no longer have room for in our homes.
What does the Bible have to say about stuff? We are warned to avoid storing up riches on earth (Matt 6:19), encouraged to sell all we have and give to others (Luke 18:22) (hopefully at prices greater than at yard sales), that we can not take our stuff with us (Psalm 49:16-17). (maybe that is why we fear death so much) Jesus tells us that we don’t need to worry about what we will wear or what we will eat because God will provide for us just as he provides for the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air (Luke 12:22-31). If you don’t believe that you can be happy with almost no stuff at all, watch some video footage of children in a refugee camp or other poor area playing soccer with a bunch of plastic bags tied up to form a ball and see the smiles!
I will not pretend that I am not as adicted to my stuff as the next person. Not only that, I am constantly tempted by ads, flyers, and catalogues of more cool stuff I could add to the stash! A new Costco just opened in our area and I was there the first day drooling over the stuff which appealed to me and snickering at some of the stuff for which other people would spend their hard earned or even borrowed money. It is a struggle with which we all deal to some extent and would take an entire cultural overhaul to reduce, let alone eliminate.
Maybe the people who didn’t want to pay five dollars for the bike are actually on the right track. Where food is a necessity, though not necessarily from MacDonalds, the bike may actually end up just sitting in their garage as it ended up doing in ours for the last eight years.