Every Wednesday morning, I check the grocery store specials online, looking for exceptionally low prices on fruit and vegetables. More times than not, I’ll see a couple of items I need to pick up at the Aldi store a few miles down the road.
If you’ve ever shopped at Aldi, you know that to get a cart, you put a quarter in the slot and get it back when the cart is returned. After just a few trips, I learned how to make the math work in my favor. Check all the lines of carts to see if somebody failed to get their quarter. Obviously, that person wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon, so their loss was my gain. After six months, I’d lost track of how many quarters I had pocketed. A few dollars had made me a prosperous businessman. With just a little time and attention, I’d seen a tremendous return on my investment.
I loved this math.
One day, I was headed toward the store when a lady came my way with an empty cart. “Here, you can have this one,” she said.
I reached out to hand her my quarter.
“Oh, no,” she said. “You keep it.”
Really? I’m a perfect stranger, and she wants to give me a quarter? I graciously said thank you and walked into the store, realizing that I could benefit from a different kind of math. The positive feeling from doing a small favor for a stranger had to be worth a lot more than a quarter.
Solomon was right when he used this strange math in Proverbs 11:25: “the generous soul will be made rich” (NKJV). So every time I have the chance, I’ll now give a stranger my cart with its quarter.
I’m close to completion of my translation of the New Testament. Call it a paraphrase, if you like. My goal is to find words that are a better interpretation of what the writers were saying. When I think readers might think a sentence can’t be true, that it doesn’t add up, a little validation of the truth might be crucial. Once in a while, I’ll work on an Old Testament verse as in Proverbs.
Give freely and experience true wealth, or be stingy and never have enough, all you have becoming a loss. The generous will have a high feeling of self-worth, and those who are helping others will help themselves. — Proverbs 11:24–25, Frank Ball paraphrase