I’ve a friend who is a history buff, and he always says, “Money has ruined everything.”
Looking back through the centuries, my friend thinks the barter system is much better.
When participants in a transaction directly exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money, my friend says that people are building a sense of a tightly connected community.
To make his point, he would use, as an example, that he is a baker and you are a butcher.
You and him get together and say you both are hungry and a sandwich sure sounds good.
As a baker, he says, “I’ve got the bread,” and you say, “I’ve got the ham.”
And it just so happens the dairy farmer comes by and says, “Hey, can I join in? I’ve got some cheese to slice up and some milk to wash it down.”
Sounds like a good lunch in the making and also the building of community.
As you all are sitting down to eat, together you say, “Wow, good bread! Best ham ever! Such tasty cheese!” “Nothing like a cold glass of milk!” “Great lunch!”
Can you see how my friend thinks there is more of a sense of pride and appreciation in a barter system with an exchange of goods and services, without money?
In today’s world, we go to the super store. We don’t even have to talk to anyone. We pull things off of shelves, throw them in our cart, go to the self-check out line, and swipe our debit cards.
We have to admit this way is convenient and almost the only way to get things in our fast paced big world, but my friend is always advocating for at least some exchange of goods and services to come back to help build more of a sense of community.
This exchange of good and services, without money can get complicated. The butcher might say to the dairy farmer, “My ham is worth more than your milk, for my pig had to give up its life for us to have ham, but your cow is still able to give milk every day.”
So, some bartering might take place. The butcher might say to the dairy farmer, “How about throwing in a extra half gallon of milk for me to take home to my family, and I will pile the ham on your sandwich?”
Imagine going into a Jewel and saying to the manger, “I’m a teacher. How about you cut the price of these steaks and throw in a pot roast, and I will tutor your children for an hour?”
With the sharp increase of meat these days and still going up, that kind of bartering might not be so bad of an idea.
If you are a real estate agent, a lawyer, a politician, or a business owner, you probably are doing some negotiating, but we don’t do much bartering in these days.
It would be an interesting experiment to exchange goods and services without using money so much, but it’s complicated enough with the use money.
For me, I just wait for things to go on sale. I wasn’t so much of shopper who looked for deals before these rising costs, but now I am even looking for coupons.
Maybe, we can do a coupon exchange here at church.
Although I know where my friend is coming from and do agree with him that there are benefits of a barter system, I’m going to say in many of our life situations that bartering is not the way to go.
Instead, I’m going to say that it’s better for us to just accept things as they are with no deal making.
For my example to make my point, I will use the five stages of grief. One of the steps is bargaining.
When we talk about grief, we are usually thinking about the loss of a loved one, but we grieve every time when something does not work out well for us.
This kind of grief happens about every day, for any day has situations that don’t work out and cause us disappointment, heartache, frustration, anxiety, anger, or even some despair.
Have you ever asked in difficulties, “Why does it have to happen to me?” “Why is it always one problem after another?” “When will I get a break?”
It’s in this time of discouragement of not feeling like anything is working out for us that we might want to be making a deal for things to go better for us.
I’m not sure who we are making the deal with. It could be with God, something in the universe that we think has power to determine outcomes, another person who we think has the capacity to make changes, or something within ourselves. You know that ego that can do anything and has all the answers.
Taking us back to our childhoods when we wanted something so bad, like a puppy, your mom and dad gave you the lecture about how taking care of a pet is a lot of responsibility.
You responded with promises of feeding, brushing, cleaning up, and walking your puppy.
Your ego was set on a high level that day.
A deal was negotiated and made. You would do the bulk of the work, so you got your puppy. Two weeks later, your parents are feeding, brushing, cleaning up, and walking your puppy.
As adults, we get in over heads, we take on too much like charging our credit cards to the maximum with the thought that we will be cutting back on other expenses, but we soon find that we our drowning in debt.
We make plans at the end of every year to make new habits for the coming year. We will loose that twenty pounds by becoming a health nut with eating pounds of kale and walking miles on a treadmill.
The new year comes around, and, by February, we are back to the same old habits.
The urban dictionary has a term for when we are making deals that are not grounded in reality and can actually cause more harm than good.
It’s called the Devil’s bargain. Some deal making can come with a terrible price to pay that someone accepts because they can see no other way out of a truly bad situation.
For instance, the dad was so desperate that he was ready to offer a Devil's bargain to get the medicine for his sick little daughter. Or, "If you marry that man to put a roof over your children's head, you will be getting the Devil's own bargain, because he does not love them, and he never will."
Do you remember the hit song by Charlie Daniels, “The Devil went down to Georgia?”
Here’s the first lines:
The Devil went down to Georgia He was lookin' for a soul to steal He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind And he was willin' to make a deal
The song goes on to say how the Devil wanted to make a deal with Johnny, a fiddle player. The devil would give Johnny a golden fiddle for his soul.
Johnny didn’t take the deal, but answered back by some hot playing on his own fiddle.
When it comes to the basics of life, we are in need to make changes to worn out things, fix what’s broken, and move forward to new challenges.
In our moving forward, we know things are not quite “yet” how we would like them, but with patience and some perseverance, we know we will meet our goals.
But, when things are not seeming like they are coming soon enough, it’s then we might be more willing to make a deal.
Our self-manufactured anxiety can cause us to doubt that all is okay and will be okay.
We are feeling that we are on the edge of falling down into a pit of chaos that we can’t ever get out of.
It’s at this point of crisis that the Devil wants you to think that the way out is by making a deal.
When we are desperate, the Devil wants you to think you can do something like making a deal that will make things go better with worldly things.
This is where the deal gets tricky.
The deal is tricky because we do need worldly things for the basics like food, clothing, and shelter.
But the devil wants us to think that more of these things is always better.
How may times do we think, “If only I had this, and if only I had that, my life would be so much better?”
It’s here the Devil wants to step in and make a deal with you to make you think your life would be better with more of this or more of that.
Of course, we can make the argument that having more things and with all of our situations going as we would like them would make life better.
But here is that big question, just how much more do you need and how much more do situations have to be improved to make life better?
It’s also here that we have to say a hard fact: we will always be thinking and feeling that we are short on things. It’s never enough, is it?
The Devil wants us to believe that worldly things and our own determination can provide a better way.
Satan has got a deal for you, or he just wants you to believe that deals can be made that will make you believe that you have power and will put you in control.
On the first Sunday in Lent, we always see the Devil and Jesus in the wilderness.
The Devil is trying to make a deal with Jesus.
We could go deeper into this deal in a Bible study, but for our purposes today, we can sum it up by saying that the Devil was trying to make a deal with Jesus, but Jesus had no reason for any kind of deal making with the Devil, the universe, or with any person.
The reason Jesus does not need to make deals because he has everything as the Lord of sea and sky.
The Devil tried to convince Jesus that he could do better for himself by making a deal, but Jesus responded that he was more than okay with only living by God’s Word.
As it is was us, too. We are more than okay when we are living by God’s Word, and by God’s Word only.
Although we do need worldly things, we need to know that we always have just what we need and our life situations are all going as God has planned for us.
By faith, we always know that no matter what is happening God’s plans always work for the good, for He alone has the power, and He alone works all things out.
God never makes deals because He does not need to, for He is the provider of all things.
Out of His love for us, God has everything worked out for us in Christ.
The Devil tried to get Jesus to doubt that he was Lord of sea and sky.
It didn’t work.
Jesus had no doubts who he was.
Jesus didn’t need anymore because he had it all already.
As we should have no doubts who we are.
We are God’s beloved children. Done deal.
We are forgiven of every sin. Done deal.
We have a new life in Christ. Done Deal.
We have all that we need. Done Deal.
We have the gift of eternal life. Done Deal.
In this season of Lent, we will be seeing Jesus going to the cross where he said before he died, “It is finished.”
The “It” that Jesus was taking about is everything that wants to harm us.
When Jesus rose, and the angel said, “His is not here. He is risen,” Jesus’ victory over all that wants to harm us was completed.
Jesus made no deals and has no need to ever make deals, for by his death and resurrection, Jesus destroyed the power of sin, the Devil, and eternal death forever.
On one hand of life, the Devil will be more than happy to make a deal with you.
Like in my favorite gangster movie, the Godfather wants to make a deal that can’t be refused.
The Devil has got a deal for you.
But, we can refuse the Devil’s deal, and we can turn from our sin.
On the other hand of life, God makes no deals. All we do is live by faith, and living by faith is so simple and easy.
We don’t need to think we need to make any deals with anything because by faith through God’s Word we already have all that we need for life now and forever.
In Christ, by faith, we know all is working and will work out for the good. It’s all a done deal.