We have been thinking about whether we should purchase two new computers. This one (a MacBook) is great for writing, but that seems to be about it. Furthermore, every time we want to write, research, or plan, it’s at the same time, when the kids are still sleeping.
But really, two? And why do they have to be new? And why do they have to be expensive Macs? Doesn’t that seem wasteful? What would people think if they walked into our house and saw that we had two brand new MacBook Pros?
It raises the question: “What do we want to invest in?” When I talked to my life-coach a few months ago about this question, about what I love, what my passions and desires are that God has hard-wired me with, the two things that came to mind were writing and sharing music, and writing and sharing words. “If this is what I love, is it time to invest in the tools necessary in order to remove the friction?”
I ended up purchasing a nice microphone that would serve every purpose that I needed, at least as far in the future as I can see, if not more. Was this a bad investment? In my mind, no. I have no regrets over purchasing this because it makes recording a whole lot easier, and the quality is a whole lot better than what I was working with before. and once we get some more expertise regarding the technicalities of recording, I’m confident that this microphone will still do the trick.
As for computers, though, they are just more expensive. A MacBook Pro can run at least $1,500 if you include taxes. But for part of what we want to be doing (photo and video and design), it seems like it makes the most sense (if money were not part of the equation) to get the one that we will be most satisfied with. The one that will have the most staying power.
We both have done that so much in our lives. That is, needed to buy something, but then went with the less expensive model or version (not necessarily because we couldn’t afford the one that was slightly more expensive) only to be disappointed later because it was poorer quality.
Take clothing for example. I bought a flannel shirt from Target in December. I’ve been wearing it every weekend since, and the stitching has already come apart at the wrist. Yes, we can take the time to sew it. Yes, maybe I shouldn’t wear it every weekend. But when I put it up next to my Woolrich flannel (which I got at the thrift store), I noticed just how much cheaper the cheap version is.
Why get something that I won’t be more satisfied with in the long run?
This question continually plagues us. Why? Because I feel that since I am a follower of Jesus, a homeless man, how can I spend money on myself? How can I spend money on a new computer when there are 21,000 thousand people dying from hunger everyday? That’s one person every four seconds. Regardless of how accurate the UN is: deaths by hunger. And here I have more than enough. Would I want someone to give food and drink to my children (through an intermediary like World Vision, of course) if they were on the brink of death? Of course! Then why would I not choose to do the same for others? “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
But where do you stop with this line of thinking? Do you literally give everything to the one who asks? (“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” Matthew 5:42. The more I ponder this verse, it seems to be taking it out of context to say it is addressing poverty when Jesus is specifically talking about paying back evil with good.) If so, then I no longer am caring for and nurturing my family.
There are four passages in the gospel of Matthew that shed light on this for me, two of them right next to each other in chapter 25. The first passage is Matthew 25:31-46, where the Son of Man separates the sheep and goats. The sheep are those who gave food to the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited those in prison. The sheep wonder “when did we?…” do all those things, and the Son of Man replies, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Our children would physically and emotionally die if we did not feed them, give them drink, welcome them, cloth them and spend time with and show love to them.
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
If we gave away everything we had, we would be hindering our children. Jesus is beautiful, and if we did not invest in beauty within our home and family life, then I honestly do not think our children would be drawn to his beauty. If they are solely drawn to him in fear, that is, as the one who forgives them of their sins, but damns them if they don’t do what he says, then they will eventually turn away from him.
In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Jesus, “‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’”
Putting myself in our children’s shoes, if my father did not take the time to invest in me and our family, and instead, always gave away our best and locked up the leftovers in a safe, I would have been ashamed. I would have been ashamed to not have what I needed (nor what I wanted).
Now this one is subtle. Because when I say invest, I don’t mean primarily with money. But, money is a factor, because if the resources are not there to provide the environment and the tools needed to enjoy home life, then it simply is more difficult. Regardless of what one can do with what they’ve been given, I think the important thing is making it work with whatever you have. The important thing is making it fun with whatever resources you have. The important thing is to engage our children, love them, and spend real kairos time with them. (That is, time not measured by the clock.) If we don’t give our children what they need, or if we always give them what they want, will they grow to despise us either way?
The last passage is Matthew 25. The parable of the talents. Particularly v. 24-30, “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest’”.
Why would God have given us these desires and gifts if he did not want us to use them and invest them for his kingdom? Why would God have given you specific desires, gifts, and passions if he did not want you to invest in them and use them for his kingdom?
(Full disclosure: We ended up buying one new computer and will run this one into the ground.)