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A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad
tree produces bad fruit (v.17).
Despite the recent economic meltdown, most people would agree that free markets have improved
the lives of billions of people. Many people today are living longer and wealthier than anyone ever has, in
large part because free markets incentivize us to create products that other people want to buy. Entrepreneurs
who knew that they would profit from their efforts invented vaccines, computers, microwaves, and indoor
However, free markets are not an unqualified good. They’re simply the most efficient way to provide
consumers what they want. What markets can’t do is tell us what we should want. If consumers want relief from
the heat of summer, markets will connect them with the sellers of air conditioners. If consumers want to get rich
quick through games of chance, markets will supply them with casinos.
In short, markets amplify whatever we are. If you want to know who you are, look at what you buy—it’s yourself
revealed. What is on your iPod, credit card statement, or television schedule? The fruit you find there indicates
what kind of tree you are (Matthew 7:17-18,20).
Markets also amplify by enlarging our effect on others. A medieval materialist would horde his gold, and that
would be the end of it. But now, through the amplifying power of markets, a materialist who buys a behemoth
home supports an entire industry that builds McMansions, and an immoral person who clicks on pornography encourages producers to make more of it.
Every purchase is a vote for the product we buy. If we choose coarse, banal, or risqué entertainment, our culture will flood the market with more. No man is an island. That has never been truer than now. And God will some day judge the choices we make today (v.19; Hebrews 6:8). —Mike Wittmer
How might a “buycott” be better than a boycott?
What would happen if we banded together to
publicly support the good stuff rather than drawing
attention to the offensive?
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