The Tea Kettle Story

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The slow pouring tea kettle

Every morning I drink a cup of tea.  Most days it’s a cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar.

Every day I’m reminded of the fact that my tea kettle isn’t perfect.  That shouldn’t surprise me since I bought it for 25 cents at a garage sale.

The problem with my tea kettle is that when I pour the hot water, there is some type of a plugish-thing that causes the water to pour really slowly.  Instead of taking 2 seconds to pour a cup of hot water, it takes 6 seconds.

The positive thing about my tea kettle is it makes my water hot.  Last time I checked, that’s exactly what a tea kettle is supposed to do.

Nevertheless, I still have a daily battle that goes on in my head.

I scold myself by saying:

“Man, this thing is pretty old school. I should buy a new kettle.  It’s not like I can’t afford a kettle.”

Then I counter my thoughts by saying:

“What does it matter if it isn’t perfect?  It gets the job done.  I don’t really need a new one.  Are four extra seconds a day really that valuable to me?”

I hope you realize that this post is not about a tea kettle.  The tea kettle helps me wrestle with the question: should I pay more for something just for a little extra comfort.

I wish there were a God-ordained comfort calculator.

The comfort calculator would give results for the following equation: Take the amount of extra comfort you’ll receive, and then subtract that by the cost difference.  If the number is greater than five, then it’s a green light. Buy it because God’s happy with you having that much extra comfort.

Sadly, no such calculator exists.

Last month, I paid $130 to heat my house.  That is money spent on comfort and money I gladly spend.  I get a huge amount of comfort out of that $130.

On the other hand, my PT Cruiser doesn’t have automatic locks.  However, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to spend another $6,000 just to buy a vehicle that has automatic locks.

Sometimes paying for extra comfort is worth the extra expense, and sometimes we should learn to live with the minimal inconvenience we experience.

The decision should not be made based on what we make or what we can afford, but it should be made based on our relationship to Christ and our call to love and serve others.

I’ve come to believe that the majority of money most middle class North Americans will spend will be for comfort.  We usually upgrade relatively well working products for products that are newer, faster, and slicker.

If it was a question of needs, we could probably all survive (or better) on half our incomes.  The problem is that we have a comfort addiction, and we’ve weakened ourselves to the point where we can’t live without certain comforts.  Things that should be wants have become needs.

What Comforts Are You Willing to Give Up for Others?

In some ways, my tea kettle constantly reminds me that I must be willing to sacrifice extra luxuries so that I have something for others.  I need something to remind me that I should feel fortunate that I have a tea kettle, and I shouldn’t be so concerned about its one minor deficiency.

What should give me more joy – getting something newer and better for myself, or helping someone else?  

To be clear, I’m not opposed to spending money on comforts.  I have a lot of things I buy simply for comfort.  Come to my house, and you’d see that I’m surrounded by comforts.  However, there must be limits.  We must be willing to live without some level of comfort that we have a “right” to enjoy.

It’s called self-sacrifice, and it’s a very biblical concept in Christian living and Christian giving.

Why must we learn to deny our own desires for comfort?

Because advertisers and inventors are so smart.  They will find a way to make your couch more comfortable.  They will find a way to make your internet faster.  They will find a way that you can dry your hair and pay your bills.  They will find a way that seven people in a van can all control their own temperature.  They will find a way that you can always remember anniversaries.

Then, they will charge you more money to make you more comfortable.

If you always need every comfort that exists, there will never be an end to what you can spend.

So, for now, I’m going to hold onto my tea kettle as a reminder.  A reminder that I’m called to live beyond myself.  A reminder that God calls me to love others.  A reminder that, in a small ways, my sacrifices can be a blessing to others.

Is there something in your house that you’ve been tempted to buy new, but you know you don’t really need to upgrade? 

Comments

  1. Konce says

    Thanks for the reminder…I have tended to only remember the times I’ve “given up” the comfort buy and not the times I’ve chosen the comfort buy.

    ~Konrad

    P.S. That is a sorry-looking “stream(s)” coming from that tea kettle.

  2. says

    Self sacrifice, not something you hear about too much where I live. A lot of people are only concerned with their own self interests and will go above and beyond to achieve them. As you mention denying those comforts keeps us in check. I just wish more people indulged in this philosophy.

  3. says

    Our self-sacrifice usually comes about because our cash flow is squeezed. We currently have two kids in college so we have tightened up our budget for extras to help finance this big ticket, hugely important investment into our children. At first I was sad to have to tighten the belt. As often happens, there has been a silver lining. We have rediscovered simpler ways to have fun and we have spent more time having quality conversations too!

    • says

      Mary,
      True. Sometimes our economic situation forces us to sacrifice our standard of living. Lord willing, we will learn to apply that way of living even when economically unnecessary.

  4. says

    What a great post! We have indeed become a society worshiping convinience and are paying a far too high price for it on a daily basis. On the other hand, big companies have figured out how to feed that passion and effectively market to us the next thing we just cant live without. and the wheel keeps turning…

    • says

      Timothy,
      You are right about how companies (big and small) have learned to feed our passion for more. I guess we all need to be vigilant about how our Christian call plays out in this materialistic society.

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