originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org
I’m a super big fan of the barter system. I think it’s a much better system than trading in paper and coins. Don’t get me wrong- money comes in handy. Money is important. But I think we have a calling to a higher way of living. If I have access to information, experience, knowledge, or a skill set that you do not, could not, or never will have access to, I then have the ability and the privilege to use that access to better or benefit the people around me. Let me give you a few example.
I took 500-700 level English classes in college, many of them revolving around grammar, grammar theory, rhetoric, explication, and writing. I had a dear friend enroll in grad school soon after I finished school, and he asked me to help edit his final papers. I had access to information and knowledge that he did not. So… of course I helped.
There is a woman on my squad who is a nurse. Two women, in fact. When there is a call for medical help of any kind, they willingly and gladly get involved. They have access to knowledge about illnesses and injuries that few others have, and they use their schooling and their skills to aid squadmates in their hour of need.
There are tons of examples out there of people helping other people out, without the need or desire for a payback. There are tons of examples out there of people trading knowledges and skill sets for the betterment of each other. My grad school friend, in response to my helping edit his grammar and punctuation, then taught me information from his classes on subjects I was interested in. He received a proof-reader, I got to learn new information about important topics. All for the price of what I already paid to receive my own knowledge.
A big argument against the idea of society-wide bartering is that if the government is in charge of said activity, they’ll run the peoples into the ground. And I agree. I am not all for government control of this topic- I feel like people should not be forced to share, give, or trade what they possess, whether materialistically or mentally. However, I think the church’s purpose is to provide an opportunity or an avenue for people to offer. One body, many parts… this is serious. We are meant to build each other, to help each other. Further, in Philippians, it says do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Even further, in Hebrews, And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. In fact, there are tons of scripture that reference the importance of sharing! Why? Because God clearly thinks it’s important. My Pastor once said (and by once I mean all the time) that if God says something once, it’s important. If He says something twice, it’s really important. If He says something more than once, you’d better pay close attention, because it’s really, super-duper, life-and-death kind of important. Here are some verses about sharing:
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
1 John 3:17
But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.
Clearly, this is a topic close to the heart of the Father. I really believe it is the church’s responsibility to take care of those in need. Maybe that’s not exactly the barter system, but I think it could work both ways. I have something you need? I have a moral obligation to help. You have something I need? You now have a moral obligation to help out. Can you choose not to assist? Certainly. Can you choose to charge me for your help? Absolutely. Is this against the law? Definitely not. Is it against the New Covenant between people and our God? I’m not so sure it isn’t. I’m not convinced that having access to aid and keeping it out of reasonable reach of those in need isn’t a sin.
Perhaps I am droning on. Perhaps I’ve gotten a little far from my original topic. Still, I think it’s an issue worthy of attention, worthy of thought, and worthy of deep and meaning conversation. What do you think? How do you feel about trading your skills to receive from someone else? How do you feel about simply giving of your excess? In a huge, society-wide way? In a small, communal, just-the-people-around-you-way?
We’re currently living in a rural town in Albania, living and working on a property with a farm, surrounded by farm after farm after farm. The girl down the street, Matilda, provides us with milk, cheese, and butter from her cow. Neighbors trade in chickens and eggs and milk and cheese. Sometimes for money, sometimes for food, sometimes for help. I once read a book about a group of people living in an earlier time, and one of their barns caught fire and burned down. All the neighbors in a several-mile radius came to help re-build the barn. When asked how he would pay them all, he responded with, “When it comes time to help them build a barn, or a house, or to harvest, I’ll go help them.” He had no stress when it came to getting the work finished, or how he would take care of the bill. The only debt he accrued was to go and help out in return. His neighbors didn’t complain or withhold their help, and they didn’t withhold their own help because he didn’t have money to pay them with. It was this wonderful, everyone-helping-everyone-out-in-due-time circle of life and love. Maybe it’s a bit utopic, but I think there’s something special there that we as a society, in general, are missing out on nowadays.
What are your thoughts?