The book of Isaiah is one of my favourite reads in the Bible. Some of the church’s most beautiful and meaningful images come from these writings. In chapter 55 verse 2, the prophet asks an extremely loaded question: “Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread?” (RSV)
As you can probably guess, Isaiah was not talking here about flour and yeast alone. In the lifetime that I have been endeavouring to be a Christ-follower, this question has come back to me over and over again in many guises, as I have tried to make the best choices as to how to spend my money, my time, and my daily caloric intake allotment.
Here’s how it works. Let’s suppose you are out shopping when a gorgeous pair of shoes catches your eye… or maybe a shiny new hammer drill. You know you don’t need another pair of shoes/hammer drill. Maybe you have twenty pairs of attractive and servicable shoes in your closet, and the slighty banged up but functional drill you got for Christmas last year is in the toolbox in the basement. This is the question to ask: “Is it bread?”
Is this eye-catching temptation worthy of your hard-earned cash? Is there something more needful, more necessary, more deserving of your investment, like maybe a responsible charity, or perhaps your neglected retirement fund?
This powerful question, “But it it bread?,” can also be asked in the context of spending your time. How much value will you receive out of the hours you spend watching television reruns? Will that nourish your soul? Will you be a richer person for having given yet another hour to the networks?
Are you so confident in your own longevity that you can afford to squander your evenings? Do you have so much faith and trust in the people who create your entertainment that you are willing to grant them such a disproportionate amount of your attention?
Or lets ask about the time you spend on the internet. (I’ll be honest if you will!) Is this helpful? Will this feed you? “Is it bread?”
Have you ever felt that thirty minutes a week was way too much time to dedicate to being taught by your pastor at church? Ask yourself, “Where is the real bread?”
And of course there is the literal reading. Most of us spend too much money on that which is not bread. Look into the grocery carts next time you are food shopping. So much of what we buy and consume has little to no nutritional value.
“Why do you spend your money on that which is not bread?” – Isaiah 55:2 (RSV)
If you really want to be depressed, calculate the number of calories in the non-nutritious consumables as opposed to the meat and vegetables. It is frankly terrifying how many empty calories many people take in daily.
“But is it bread?” Ask this question the next time you are facing a choice as to how to spend your money or your life. May God guide you to make the best choices in this new year.
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