I don’t often quote Scripture but hey here goes….
Luke 12:15-21 (NIV)
The Parable of the Rich Fool
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
I want to examine the actions of others and also my own actions in response to the very worrying and sad coronavirus. So here is my story…
We run a medical business which needs to use medical supplies (masks, gloves, skin disinfectant etc), and a body jewellery business which we have manufactured in China.
My man in China is in lockdown so I bought from an American wholesaler (and paid about twice the price..). We have only just received new stock a couple of weeks ago so with the new order that should last us about 4 months. But we did not need it right away…..
In terms of the foot business, masks in particular have become hard to get and the prices are inflated. Luckily as healthcare practitioners we can buy from Podiatry suppliers - but as I was trying to buy them they were selling out! I did however in the end manage to secure some.
So firstly, I will admit I have bought ‘ahead’ for both business’ on the basis that if I don’t buy it now, should this situation continue we would not be able to buy it later - resulting in not being able to run either business and thus having no income. In fact as I write now, just a few hours since I purchased, all the podiatrist suppliers seem to be out of stock of masks. I am also sending masks and gloves to my stepson in Hong Kong - he and his wife have recently had a baby so somewhat worrying and they can’t get hold of anything locally. Naturally if anyone else is in need I will share.
I can’t make up my mind if I have sinned! Comparing what I have done to the parable, I have done the same thing. My buying ahead has prevented others from buying no doubt. I could have done nothing - but that is unthinkable as it would put our businesses and income at risk. I feel a mixture of relief that I have protected our businesses but I have a nagging feeling of guilt. I will certainly be praying about this.
Now the next issue is the inflated prices on Ebay and other selling platforms. I bought my masks at the price of £3 for 50 from a Podiatry supplier. Now let’s look at what they are selling for on Ebay…. £20 for 10 of the same masks! And if you look at their previous sales you see they were selling the same thing for about £5 or less a month ago!
So as Christians what do we think of this? A chance to make a quick buck, or totally immoral? I can understand the temptation - the opportunity to make a lot of money quickly - these sellers are making thousands of pounds a day. Should we just treat it as supply and demand? Or is it taking advantage of a very sad situation and exploiting people who are very worried for their families?
I have more questions than answers on all this. Looking on the motivational aspect, what I have done was for different reasons than the rich man in the parable - it wasn’t for greed or to get rich - but for the survival of our businesses. And it did not occur to me to buy ahead until I saw things selling out. However are these just excuses? Am I just trying to justify my actions? And of course my purchases have denied other from purchasing.
In terms the sellers on Ebay, their motivation seems to be to make excessive money - so perhaps that is the same motivation as the rich man in the parable - and perhaps a comparison to the Tax Collectors in the Bible? Perhaps it could be argued that we live in a different world now - but I would think morals and ethics are the same.
But who am I to judge
Matthew 7:3 (NIV)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
I will be praying on my actions