Martin Wiles

Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 NLT

Who would have thought a book of stamps would buy what I wanted?

As an added marketing technique to draw customers, Piggly Wiggly grocery stores offered Greenback stamps. A small machine was located just above the cash register. The cashier punched in the amount the customer had purchased, and the machine distributed stamps. Consumers then licked the stamps and placed them in books.

Mom didn’t particularly like to lick stamps so she gave me that job with the reward of getting the stamps. The Greenback company had a store in Orangeburg and distributed a catalog showing items available for purchase. For a young boy who loved to spend money he didn’t have or should have saved, this arrangement suited me fine.

As the blank books began filling, I’d peruse the catalog to see what I wanted. I wasn’t interested household items —only those things that suited a young boy’s fancy. The joy I felt as I made my way to the Greenback store was only dampened if the store was out of my planned purchase.

At the time, I hadn’t learned what Jesus taught. I still thought things could make me happy. More than 40 years later, I’m still working on learning the lesson since it goes against the grain of my human nature.

Of course, Jesus didn’t teach things were wrong; He just warned against the attachment and disappointment effect they often have. When considering a purchase or investment, I’ve learned to consider several things.

Can I use the item in God’s Kingdom work? If I can’t, even in some small way, maybe it’s not the best thing for me to invest my money in.

Will the purchase of this item bring me closer to God? If it’s a Bible, the answer is easy; it it’s a flatscreen television or an all-terrain vehicle, I might have to be ingenious.

Could the item I’m buying steal my focus from God? The answer to this question causes me to look at the long-term possibilities of the item.

Is buying the item sinful? While some things are morally neutral but carry the potential to become sinful, some things are just sinful — plain and simple.

Jesus was right. Life shouldn’t be measured by what or how much I have. Life is about Him and my relationship to Him.

Measure the value of what you have by Whom you’re related to.

Martin Wiles is an author and speaker currently residing in Greenwood. He and his wife Michelle are the founders of Love Lines From God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com), a devotional ministry designed to encourage those on a spiritual journey with Jesus Christ.

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