When I was young I would every so often go over to one of my friend’s houses. He’d show me his latest miniature car model or his new watch, and then we’d eventually go to the living room to watch some TV. The thing I always found odd was that their TV remote was covered with a plastic sleeve. In fact, it was the plastic sleeve it originally came in! I asked my friend why the remote was in plastic. He told me it kept the dirt off the remote.
My question to him was, “When do you get to enjoy the remote’s cleanliness?” It didn’t make sense to me because the plastic sleeve was quite dirty (and it made it awkward to press the buttons). Did I mention that my friend also kept the plastic film on the face of his new watch as well?
In grad school I encountered someone who had a clear plastic covering over her MacBook keyboard. The plastic looked worn and I asked her why she had that. “It keeps the keys clean,” she told me. As with my friend I asked, “When do you get to enjoy the cleanliness of the keyboard?” She was silenced.
I find it odd that we work so hard to preserve what is ultimately passing, those impermanent things. We need to go beyond pure function to something deeper. God gives us material things to serve God’s purposes and for enjoyment. Buying nice china but never using it defeats the purpose of the original purchase. How might God feel if he gives you a gift and you either put it away to “save it” or you cover it in plastic, causing it to lose its enjoyability? In the Bible, Jesus makes it very clear: “Look at the crows: they don’t plant seeds or gather a harvest; they don’t have storage rooms or barns…” (Luke 12:24) Even the flowers don’t worry about clothing themselves. “It is God who clothes the wild grass – grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have!” (Luke 12:28)
God is not telling us that we must never save. Saving money, for instance, is prudent and practical, but penny pinching can border on sinful. Use what we have been given prudently but enjoy the gifts given. Even enjoy the clean TV remote or the clean keyboard! Getting caught up on preserving what’s impermanent means you’re wrapping God’s gifts in plastic, rather than embracing them fully in gratitude.
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Music by Kevin MacLeod