Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Name Your Price

We recently purchased two pieces of furniture which match the sofa we bought two years ago. It took a little detective work on my part to find them, but find them I did. Right before Christmas, I spoke with a young man named Richard, who gave me a ridiculously high price, but I figured that's what furniture costs these days. 

I've decided that buying furniture is a lot like buying a car. Both are ridiculously marked up and you never really know what the actual price is, so how do you know if you're getting a good deal?

Anyway, Richard assured me that this price was a sale price-a sale was currently in process-20% off. Because the furniture was about two years old, it was no longer on the floor, so this would be a special order. We didn't even really need to go in to the store, but 1) I wanted to see the picture to be sure they were, in fact, the correct pieces and 2) we were paying cash.

We didn't get out to the store until this past Sunday, the last day of this apparent sale--almost two weeks later. I sought out Richard, because I wanted him to receive our commission, since we'd started out with him. Fair's fair. When Richard pulled up the two pieces, the price that was shown was well over twice as high as the price he quoted me. He quickly said, "Oh, that's not the right price." He wandered off to talk to someone, most likely his supervisor, just like when you're negotiating a car deal. They always have to go talk to their supervisor, as if they can't make any monetary decisions on their own. 

He came back and quoted us a price that was significantly lower than the price on the computer screen (as if I should be thrilled!), but $200 higher than the price he quoted me over the phone! What? Do these guys just make up a price, depending on their mood? When I told him the price he'd quoted me over the phone, his response was, "Oh, okay. No problem." What? No problem? No talking to the supervisor this time? If I knew it was going to be that easy, I would have made up a much lower price! But I'm honest, which is why I'd make a lousy furniture salesman. 

He simply typed in, "Price Match." Really? Then he added, "You're getting 45% off."

Say that again? How do you figure? When we spoke on the phone, it was 20% off. Then you gave me a price which was $200 higher than the first price you quoted me. Then you let me name my price. All the while I'm getting 45% off? 45% off which price? I'm confused.

Life, in general is like furniture shopping isn't it? You never quite know who you can trust. And it seems like we're forever negotiating deals. Deals with shady furniture salesmen, even shadier car salesmen, and sadly, even sometimes friends and family. They may not be monetary deals. Those we expect. It's the more abstract deals. The ones that we find we've gotten into without realizing it. The ones where, when we catch our breath, we say, "What just happened?"

All because of honesty and respect. Or lack thereof. Sometimes honesty is too hard, so we embellish a little bit. We don't want to hurt someone's feelings, or we might just need to cover ourselves just a tad. The problem with not being completely honest all the time is that we have to remember who we lied to and what the lie was. Oh, we don't call it a flat out lie. We've already convinced ourselves that it's the sort of truth. Yes, we've sold ourselves on it! We shaved off 20% at first, then 45% but the other party is left scratching their head wondering what happened to that other 25%. And we're standing there wondering how we got to this place. No one really knows what the original price was and how much of a deal, if any, either of us are really got.

And respect...well, we think we're respecting others, but we manipulate and play the victim to get our way. We negotiate 20% of our self-respect and then tell the other person that they're getting a great deal of 45%, by watching our child/doing this favor/lending us money/dealing with a problem that should be ours to deal with. In the end, no one makes anything.

There is no negotiating in the kingdom of heaven. No name your price.There is no guessing, no game playing, no price matching. God doesn't allow it. If we want to live in the kingdom of God, we must be honest first with God, since we can't hide anything from Him anyway! Once we are honest with God, we see the dishonesty in ourselves and it's very ugly. It causes us to want to repent. Being honest with others will flow from that. 

We must respect the office and authority of God our Father before we can even respect ourselves. We cannot respect others until we can show proper respect to our God and to ourselves. Think about's often evident to us that certain people have no self-respect. Equally evident is that those same people typically have no reverence for what is right and wrong. These are not people who respect the authority of leaders, much less God. What makes us so different? It may not be evident to others, but if there is any irreverence in us, God sees it. It's evident to Him. 

Let's not live like shady furniture or car salesmen. Let's strive to be honest and respectful to God, to ourselves and to others. The deal we strike with the devil is not worth the deal we receive from God---everlasting life and unconditional love. You can't price match that!

Blessings Along the Way,

Song of the Day 
Honesty (Billy Joel)

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