As it turns out, everything in this world is worth less simply because you've owned it. Except for the rare few who achieve immortality or incredible fame to the extent that someone would pay millions of dollars for a used toothbrush, most of us face the reality that in terms of calculated value, we leave this world with less than we entered it.
Your new car is barely worth more than a used one the second you drive it off the lot with papers in hand. Your clothes start to wear out as soon as you wear them. Right now, I am trying to sell some items via an online garage sale to raise money for a ministry project I'm working toward, and it doesn't matter if I have taken excellent care of an item, if it is near perfect in condition. It has still depreciated in value. For no other reason than that I have touched it.
Really makes a person feel good about themselves, doesn't it? That you can't touch anything without making it worth less.
Paradoxically, there is within each of us this innate sense that we ought to leave the world better than we found it. We ought to contribute, to add to this mess that we're in and maybe even clean it up a little bit. We ought to leave more behind than we came with....even while we're making less of everything we touch.
How is one to balance this burden of leaving more with this reality of making less? This invitation to enhance with the truth of diminishing? It's a tough one.
I think it comes down to creation and purpose. Use, you might say.
The thing that drains our possessions of their value as we touch them is not within us; it is within our things. It is that by simply being among us, it is assumed they are giving up part of their value in usefulness. They are being worn, used, drained, emptied and thereby giving us a measure more while sacrificing a measure of themselves.
There comes a day when the car won't start not even one more time. There comes a time when the television goes dark permanently. There comes a moment when the seat rips out of your jeans and there's no way to patch that back up. The pen runs out of ink. The last bite of cake is gobbled up. Stuff is used and then it is gone. Rendered worthless because there's nothing more to take out of it.
They are rendered worth less by being touched, being used, and giving more. And we consider them worth the investment.
The same is true for us, as we seek to leave a legacy and give more to the world than we came into it with. As we seek to serve, the key is to be made less. We have to let ourselves be touched by this world. Used. Put our usefulness to good work and put into the world what we have to give to it. Not so that we can be cheapened or sold but so that we can be made less, which gives us a certain charm, don't you think? Like a good used Bible or an old glass butter churn. There's something about something that has been used well....or rather, has served well.
And an odd thing happens. While we're being made less, we feel unequivocally like more. We feel the true measure of our worth and the value of His grace. We feel every bit what we are as a precious child and intricate creation of God the Father, and it doesn't seem like we're worth less. We know we are more.
When we know we are more, we aren't concerned as so much of the world seems to be, with getting more. We are consumed with giving more. With doing more. With serving more. With loving more. That's where we find creation and purpose. Use, you might say.
More from less.
It was a truth Jesus knew well. "He emptied Himself by taking on the form of a servant...." (Philippians 2:7) He gave Himself to the world, against those who wanted to make more of Him and into the hands of those who made Him less. He gave all that He had to give and humbled Himself.... And today, we know He was more.
More from less.