Are you what you do or something more?

I caught a glimpse of a new television commercial, I think for the Commonwealth Bank, featuring a man walking along a dusty road, whispering regrets to himself.

‘If only I would do something instead of just thinking about what I might do’ he says, or something like that.

Sounds like a carefully market-researched sentiment inserted into an emotive scene to echo what most people have thought at one point or another. Or continually.

Then the screen splits and a second, identical man is seen walking purposefully the opposite direction down a paved, tree and building lined road. The first man stops and stares after him.

The words ‘You are what you do’ fade on to the screen, along with the bank logo.

The implicit suggestion is that by associating with this bank, we will move from the ranks of the regretful thinkers to the have-it-all doers.

I don’t think so… If what we do is the sum of who we are, then we immediately dismiss those who can’t measure up – and ultimately that is all of us.

Who decides when we have done enough to have made it? Who decides what version of ‘doing’ is actually right? And how many people do we harm in the pursuit of our ‘doing’ success?

What about the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the sick? Are they relegated to the dusty road of oblivion because they just can’t do enough?

There’s a dangerous note to this ad that elevates youth, wealth and material success as the measure of a person – many in our society are none of these things.

People have intrinsic value because God made us in His image. People have eternal value, not through what they do, but because of their relationship with Jesus. People have real value because they are loved, because they have gifts and stories and smiles and qualities that can’t be defined by a banking corporation.

Yes, we do have seasons of regret where we question ourselves and wonder where our worth lies. We do need to make decisions and take action, and sometimes this is hard.

The Bible shows that many times the answer lies further down the dusty road in the wilderness with an encounter with transcendent God. Stripped of everything, we find our real value looking deep into His eyes.

Would you trade that for a share portfolio and nice shoes? PH

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