Christian Living


The Diminishing Value of Money

How important is $100 in your life? How about $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000?

As that dollar amount went up, my guess is that a certain level of money bleeped on your internal radar and caused you to think, “Wow…I could do [fill in the blank] with THAT much money.” Obviously, each person reacts differently. $100 – or less – is a full month’s income to 64% of the world’s population. For much of the world, therefore, $100 would be very important: food, shelter, and sustenance for an entire month.

On the other hand, $100,000 might be inconsequential to those who already have hundreds of thousands of dollars. For them, huge sums of money may not be nearly as meaningful as $100 would be to much of the world.

Where is my point?

Just this: the more money one has, the less value it has to that person. This is what I call the diminishing value of money. Whatever level that is for you, it is very real and can easily escalate without you realizing it.

As I stooped over to pick up a quarter recently during a walk, I recalled a time many years ago when, while walking to my Little League baseball game, I spotted two quarters lying on the sidewalk. I was ecstatic by my good fortune as I ran to the corner store to purchase a pack of Tops baseball cards. Was I equally thrilled when I pocketed that quarter the other day? Of course not. Inflation aside, twenty-five cents has a diminished value in my life.

The church in Jerusalem

The diminished value of money became quite relevant in the first century when the church in Jerusalem was suffering from extreme poverty. While on a missionary journey, Paul took it upon himself to raise funds for those impoverished believers, collecting money from several churches en route, and challenging the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8-9) to be ready with a gift when he arrived. The following verses pertain specifically to the principle of diminished value:

“Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, ‘Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.’ ” 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 (NLT)

Not clear yet? Because the Corinthians had plenty, the value of their gifts meant much more to the struggling Jerusalem believers than it did to those in Corinth. Furthermore, these things have a way of balancing themselves out. The day could very well come when the tables are turned — when those who have much today are in need. In God’s economy, all of us, as His property managers, are charged with the responsibility to distribute those resources as the owner sees fit.

How about you?

At what monetary level do you reach diminishing values? If an extra ten dollars or thousand dollars would not impact your life, giving away that amount wouldn’t either. I challenge you (and, in doing so, I am also challenging myself) to allow the diminishing value of money concept penetrate deeply into your fiber. You might find yourself giving outrageous tips to your restaurant server, supporting a struggling missionary, paying a year or four years of college tuition for a deserving student or buying a car for the single mother who lives down the street.

Exception to the diminishing value principle

The value of money only diminishes when you use the money for yourself. Of course, the challenge in this post is to share that money with another human being who will derive great benefit from that same sum. But herein lies a paradox: at the point when you decided to earmark all “extra” money for others, the value begins to increase, not diminish. Am I talking in circles? Paul puts it this way, “So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 2 Co 9:12 (NLT)

These two factors: the joy of knowing you are helping others and the knowledge that they are giving thanks to God are values that one can never receive by using the money for himself.

These are increasing…not diminishing values. God, in the way only He can orchestrate, makes everyone a winner.

Readers: what are your thoughts about the diminishing value of money?  Do you think this concept will motivate you to be a more generous giver?  Why or why not?

Article originally published on SeedTime.com and is being used with permission. Copyright 2018.

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