Store Brand

A grocery will have several varieties of much of its stock.  While this is not true of each sundry, it is a common thing.  In fact, the same might be said of other businesses to the same or lesser degree.  There will be items that are similar or identical though they have different labeling.  The plainest labels will be those of the “store brand” which, incidentally, will be the goods with the lowest costs.  Termed another way, we call these generics.  They bear the general mark with fewer frills and are not promoted with expensive ad campaigns and other commercialization.  Having read labels and done factory work, I know the markings on the outside do not necessarily indicate a substantive difference in the product.

When I go to the pharmacy, I ask for the generic.  I not only want it- I prefer it.  See, it does just as good a job for a lesser fee.  I have seen this truth in different guises times over in life.  It is often true that simpler, less flashy elements and efforts will yield the same results as their more expensive counterparts.  With so many attempts failing of their promises, I am always delighted to get the best for less.  In a way, this conservative approach relates to stewardship in that it seeks to get the most bang for any buck.  It also chimes with the natural order as we see the saving and storing of resources as integral to the existence of creation.  Each time I see the application, I am reminded of the beauty of utilitarian usage.

In the church world, I have lived to see heartbreaking defeats and fruitless victories.  At times, these are at the culminations of well-planned and financed efforts.  Though elaborate efforts can bring desired ends, it is not always true that the fanciful is the most effective.  Very often, simple, straightforward steps reach the same destination and at less cost.  Of the two, I would take effort over effervescence though I enjoy the fizz as much as anyone else.  So, I encourage people to be economical in their usage of time and resources but robust and energetic when it comes to sweat equity.  We don’t all have the same amount of talent or talents, but each of us has the same amount of time and the same ability to give our best.

As with sporting events, work for God is best accomplished when the fundamentals are taught, observed and practiced.  Though they may, at times, seem mundane through familiarity, these old-hat measures are integral to success precisely because of their repetitions which leads to mastery.  Occasionally, gifted persons will contribute to God’s kingdom in unusual ways, but, in general, the edifice is constructed laboriously and brick-by-brick.  It is the average efforts of committed workers over time through which God is best able to show Himself as the Chief Architect and Cornerstone of His work.  Paul said foolish things confound the wise and weak things the strong.  He desired to manifest human weakness and divine strength.

Some take great pride in appearances and expenditures as if those things were indicators of validity, but there is another point of view.  Forrest’s mother told him that people only needed a certain amount of money, and the rest was just for showing off.  I think I agree with that assessment.  Personally, I’ll take the plain wrapping, and you can keep the gift box.  I’m interested in what’s inside.  We don’t judge books by their covers, and people have greater stories to tell.  I’ve found gems of pure rays in humble habitats, and I know that sincerity and singular vision grow best in simplicity.  Our world is given to superficiality and values the ad campaign.  Let others pay top dollar; I’ll take the store brand.


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