Important Pennies

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Is a penny important?

All of us have seen a rise in the price of gasoline. I certainly don’t understand how and why it keeps going up, but I do know that there is no bargaining power when you get ready to buy it.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently quoted an analysis by Credit Suisse bank that every one-penny rise in the cost of a gallon of gas takes $1 billion of consumer spending away from other goods in the course of a year. That means that a 50-cent increase in gas this year would divert $50 billion away from consumer spending. That makes each penny very important.

It is easy to overlook the value of a penny. I remember when I was growing up, if you saw a penny on the sidewalk, you would stop and pick it up. A penny was important. Today people don’t take the time or energy to even bend over and pick up a penny. If they do pick it up, it is usually for environmental reasons and they take it and throw it in a trash can. A penny doesn’t seem to have much value – until you realize what it means tacked onto a gallon of gas!

I remember reading about a power plant shutdown several years ago in Buchanan, New York. People were without electricity. The company spent $8 million repairing the power plant!

The source of the problem was a 5-cent washer. That is five pennies! It was a loose piece which apparently had been dropped into the 360-ton generator during an earlier inspection. That one little washer caused a vibration that wore the insulation off of a crucial copper coil. That led to a short circuit and ultimately the loss of power for thousands of people. It took seven months to repair that problem before the power plant could resume. Fortunately they had an alternate source of power during that time.

A five-penny washer caused $8 million worth of damage. Are pennies important?

One day Jesus watched people drop money into the collection plate at the temple. Different people put in different amounts. One very poor widow came and put in a couple of pennies. Jesus made the comment that this woman had given more than anybody else that day. (Mark 12:43, 44)

The disciples thought that Jesus might know something about life, but He didn’t understand economics. A lot of people had given more. His lesson to the disciples – and to us – was that while the rest of the people gave out of their abundance, she gave the best that she had. One penny made a huge difference in what she had. It also spoke volumes about her faith.

One penny-per-gallon makes a big difference! One 5-penny washer misplaced can disrupt a whole community! Giving enough pennies that represent how much we have brings a welcoming word from Jesus!

Watch your pennies!

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