Tuesday, September 2, 2014


The other day my Good Wife and I were in a department store that was having a clearance sale. She bought three tops and I bought four shirts; all of our purchases were on clearance. Her purchase came to $22; as the cashier handed her receipt to her she said, “You saved $113!” My total was $27 (hey, I bought one more item than she did!); as the cashier gave me my receipt she said, “You saved $118!” and so I said, “I win!” Of course, as some wise person once pointed out, “You save 100% of the money you don’t spend.”

The good thing is that, by a broad definition of “need,” we needed the items that we bought. In my case, I’ve been wearing some of my polo shirts for years and they “needed” to be replaced, especially when I could get such nice shirts at such a good price. My old shirts are still good enough for someone to wear, though, so they’ll end up at a thrift store; like I said, we’re going with a broad definition of “need” here.

I’m wearing one of my new shirts today. Out of curiosity, I checked the label to see where it was made and found that it was manufactured in Lesotho, which I confess I had to look up. Lesotho is a small mountainous nation that is completely surrounded by the country of South Africa. According to an article I read, Lesotho is making an effort to insure better working conditions for its garment workers than those that are found in nations where unsafe conditions, child labor, and forced labor are far too prevalent. But that same article told me that Lesotho has a long way to go in consistently providing safe working conditions.

I hope no one suffered in order to make my new shirt. Regardless, chances are excellent that the needs of the textile workers in Lesotho and other places are much more real than my “needs.”

It would be good, I believe, if we thought about the meaning--and even the appropriateness--of the words we use. Sure, I “saved” a good bit of money on my purchase; but there are people making such items who are trying to save their lives and the lives of their families. Sure, I “need” some new clothes every now and then, but there are lots of people out there who just need some clothes, not to mention some decent shelter and enough food.

Maybe if we start paying more attention to our words we’ll also start paying more attention to our motivations and our thoughts and if we start paying more attention to our motivations and our thoughts maybe—just maybe—we’ll start paying more attention to our actions and to our choices.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take advantage of a good deal.

I’m just saying that as Christians—not to mention as decent human beings—we should be more concerned about those who are getting a raw deal.

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