“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
As a freshman at Bellarmine College (now university), I remember nervously sitting at a table in one of my first college classes: Principles of Economics.
The professor entered the room, and after a brief introduction, he said, “The first rule of economics is: ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’”
I didn’t really get it at first. If someone offers to pay for lunch, how is that not free?
But the professor went on to explain that there are costs associated with every decision we make in life. In the case of going to a free lunch, there is the value of our time, and if we drive, the cost of gas and wear and tear on our vehicle.
Each time we decide to do one thing, we must forgo doing something else. The value of our next best forgone alternative is referred to as opportunity cost, which often can’t be measured in monetary terms because it must account for the benefit or satisfaction we derive from a given choice.
When I signed up for an economics class to fulfill a general education requirement, I thought I would learn about money and the economy. I ended up learning more about human nature and cost/benefit analysis.
Sometimes our opportunity cost seems pretty clear. For instance, if you make $10 an hour and are thinking about leaving work two hours early to take a nap, your opportunity cost is $20.
It might seem like a no-brainer to stay at work, but what if you haven’t slept in 24 hours? Is your mental health worth more than $20 to you?
There are numerous factors that go into our decision-making process, but I have found that when it comes to loving others, the opportunity cost is often pretty low.
For instance—and I’m preaching to myself here—what is the opportunity cost of helping my neighbor with some yard work for an hour versus watching one more episode of “Gold Rush”?
Or what is the opportunity cost of playing baseball with my son versus scrolling through Facebook on my phone for 30 minutes?
Again, next to nothing.
What is the opportunity cost of helping a single mom move furniture versus sleeping in on Saturday?
So the lesson here is to take advantage of every opportunity to love and serve others. There is such a thing as free love (and not that weird, 1960’s kind of free love).
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
And hopefully with this devotional I’ve extracted a little bit of value out of my $30,000 economics degree. Thanks for the education, Mom and Dad.
>How can you use your time more wisely?
>Can you think of someone in your life who could use a little help?
>What keeps you from being more involved in other people’s lives?