We live in the most consumer driven society in history. There are constant concerns across America for the power grid to keep everything running and charged. We use over 100 pounds of plastic products per year, per person. In some regions water shortages are caused because we each consume, on average, 82 gallons of water a day.
Do you consume more than you create for others? Jeff Bezos stepped down as the CEO of Amazon on April 15, 2021. Amazon is one of the few trillion dollar companies in the world. He wanted to assure the stockholders that there was a bright future for the company. He sent a letter to the investors speaking about the key to Amazon’s future success.
“If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. Any business that doesn’t create value for those it touches, even if it appears successful on the surface, isn’t long for this world. It’s on the way out.”
For Amazon that means creating value for customers, sellers who use the platform, employees, and stockholders. But did you notice, Bezos said creating value for others is not just a business principle, but it is a key to success “in life.” Let’s test the truth of that statement.
If contributing to the lives of others is a principle to live by then surely Jesus must have said something about it. In fact he did. He was quoted to have taught,
“‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
Jesus also taught a parable about a rich fool. He had a successful harvest but instead of sharing the wealth, he decided to hoard it all for himself. He died that day. He accumulated rather than give of his assets.
Creation and nature seems to support this same principle. In the Holy Land there are two famous seas, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life and provides water for the region. Water flows in and out of it via the Jordan River. But at the end of the Jordan River is the Dead Sea. It has nothing living in it because of the high mineral content. It is seventeen times more salty than the ocean! The Dead Sea only consumes. Everything that flows into it dies.
Jesus promised, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38). The living water is His Spirit and Word.
The contrast of being a contributor versus a consumer is also seen in relationships. Of all relationships, marriage presents us with a focused example. Suppose a marriage has one spouse doing the majority of the contributing to the value of the marriage and the other does the majority of the consuming. That marriage will not last long.
Jesus best modeled this principle of giving rather than consuming on the cross. In Latin, Christ’s last words on the cross were: “Consummatum est,” meaning “It is finished.” It means to waste away and be totally consumed. He allowed his life to be totally consumed and used up to create life for sinful mortals like us.