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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Trade Ya!”

Something that you learn if you take any economics course that is a somewhat simple fact yet is easily overlooked by most is the concept of how much something is worth. Value, in terms of dollars, euros, pounds, pesos, etc., is literally nothing more than what you are willing to pay for it. People can get the idea when they go to a market somewhere and see a candy bar or a light bulb for sale that the price is some definitive measure of its worth, when the reality is, as supply and demand dictates, that’s a combination of the cheapest that the company can afford to produce it meeting the most society is willing to pay for it.

Value is not constant or necessarily based on what it cost to produce something, which is why, as in today’s episode, we have things like swap meets. Something that has no value to you may have incredible value to someone else regardless of how much it was originally worth.Twilight Sparkle was trying to get rid of some of her old books she no longer needed, but she ended up keeping them due to the value they had to her as representing how far she had come in her life. A big example of value not being measured in terms of price came from Rarity and Applejack, who both forfeited everything they had brought to trade to get something they found personally worthless but their friend would appreciate. Similar to the case in “The Gift of the Magi”, in that case it wasn’t the gift itself that was important but what the other was willing to give up to try and make the other one happy.

Yet the biggest example of assigning value came from Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Rainbow Dash, wanting a genuinely valuable book to complete her collection of first editions in Daring Do, was so desperate for it that she pressured Fluttershy into agreeing to be part of the “trade”; going home with someone else to train a large and vicious pet to be a house-critter. Although it would mean Fluttershy could be gone from Ponyville for months, she consented as she knew it would make Rainbow Dash happy. Only after the trade had been made did Rainbow Dash realize she had made a mistake…trading one of her friends for a book. This illustrates another big concept behind value: we don’t realize how valuable certain things are to us until we don’t have them anymore.

Our sense of value also comes into play when it comes to what we have, what we acknowledge we have, and what we desire. That, in turn, influences what we pray for, both in terms of what we ask God for as well as in terms of how much gratitude we give to him. On one day I might be praying for a promotion or to be able to make a car payment.If I got fired that day, I’d very quickly be praying just for a job that paid my old salary. If something happened to make my wife or child seriously ill, I’d probably neglect praying for the car or my work at all and just pray for them. One parent around the holidays might pray that they can be able to find a game system or toy that their child really wanted. Another parent might pray they simply have enough money to give their child a Christmas of any kind. And yet another might not even want that much; just enough money to heat the house that day. In all of these cases, we can see that clearly there was a hierarchy of value in play, but no one would think to even be grateful for it, instead focusing on things they don’t have, unless it was not available to them.

I recall a fable I heard years ago…

Once upon a time there was a man who rode his horse to a cathedral, tied it up, dismounted, and then went inside and knelt to pray. He prayed: “O Lord, thank you for how much you have blessed me. I have my health, a home to live in, food to eat, and I want for nothing. I pray for only one other small thing. Please give me a better horse than the one I own right now and I’ll be perfectly happy.”

After rising and leaving the building, he found that his horse had been stolen while he was inside the cathedral. Immediately, the man ran back inside and went to his knees again.

“Forget about that other horse! Just give me my old one back!”

Lord Jesus said in his lesson about value: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) He understood that true value comes from what people assign importance to rather than gold, jewels, or anything “material”.Things become more or less valuable to us based on how much importance we assign to them, and we often fail to assign importance to the right things as we should. It’s for that reason that He cautioned people to assign the most value to things that are of eternal importance, “where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal”.

As demonstrated in this episode, this includes valuing other people and their well-being more than things. It also involves making investments for eternity and using our god-given talents while we have the opportunity on Earth. Most importantly, it means making sure we have treasure in Heaven to begin with by accepting Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation from our sins, so that we may one day inherit eternal life…certainly the biggest item that we don’t want to take for granted until the day the offer is taken away from us.

And lastly, it means when we pray to God to ask for something that we recognize what is truly valuable and needed, and that we make sure to ask for that accordingly.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you again for everything I have and every area of my life where I am not in want. I pray in gratitude especially for those things that I rely upon the most and the people I depend on the most. Thank you also for the most valuable gift of all: the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for all my sins and to grant me eternal life in Heaven. Help me to recognize the value of such a gift and not take it for granted as I minister and share it with others, and not to neglect any of the gifts you have given me. Lastly, please grant me the wisdom to examine myself and always pray not for what I want, but what I need. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”