What’s In It For Me?
It was interesting to observe a transaction between a train passenger and a vendor Such interactions are quite intriguing in a multilingual and multicultural setting like India. The passengers may know a language the vendor doesn’t and may use that to their advantage. The customers make a quick and thorough analysis of the product while speaking to one another in a language the vendor may not understand. But one must be careful since there are plenty of people with a working knowledge of four or more languages.
So the item was passed around among the customers while they evaluated its quality, the price, the cost back in their own state. They may also consider the possible cost of manufacture, especially for a home made product. Then the bargaining begins with the customer suggesting a much lower price than the vendor’s original price. Normally a discussion follows with the possibility of an “argument” regarding the price and the actual value of the product. If the vocal exchange doesn’t turn into an explosion, several counter offers will finally bring both parties to an agreement in price.
The writer of Proverbs lived in a similar bargaining society. He describes a similar situation: “’Its no good, its no good!’ says the buyer – then goes off and boasts about the purchase.” (Proverbs 20:14 NIV
) I suppose most eastern societies are similar. The whole bargaining process is developed into a well formulated art. The words spoken may have a variety of nuances. The buyer does everything possible to point out the negatives and to bring the price down. At the same time, the seller attempts to highlight its value and bring up the price.
It seems Job mentions a similar question, but regarding our faith in God: “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” (Job 21:15 ESV
) This question was asked by those described by Job as “wicked.” For them, serving God was for the purpose of getting something from him, like some kind of financial transaction. But for Job, this was not the case. In the midst of his deepest struggle he said: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15 ESV
) Such a firm statement of trust clarifies to us that his faith in God goes deeper than material gain.
So, what benefit was there for Job? All of Job’s sufferings were intended to test and prove this particular issue: Did Job serve God to gain material blessings? God was inviting Satan to test Job and see for himself. God was convinced that Job’s love for him went deeper than material things in life.
So, what’s in it for me? What if I, like Job, was stripped of everything I value? Will my faith endure? I’m afraid to even think such thoughts. But what if?
Have you had thoughts about the depth of your love for God? What were your greatest doubts?