Frankly, I’m baffled by all the toilet paper hoarding still going on. But it does reveal something very basic about human nature. We are fundamentally ruled by one of two emotions—fear or love. And we see the former most profoundly during times of crisis.
Case in point: I was in a small grocery story yesterday looking for one package of toilet paper and was told there was still some available in a special bin in front of the store. When I got there I found a familiar sight. An empty pallet lying on the floor under a sign signifying toilet paper for sale.
As my wife and I went through the store, I couldn’t help but notice one person with a shopping cart full of toilet paper. I also noticed that no one else in the store had any in their cart, so this person apparently took all that was left. Pondering this made me think about all the people who might actually need toilet paper while this person stocked up enough for the next two years.
Seriously, I don’t get this particular herd-mindset since stocking up on toilet paper provides no deterrent whatsoever against Covid-19, but I do know why it happened. And this gets back to my point….
These hoarders are driven by fear.
And part of me can’t blame them. News media programming propagates fear. Fear sells advertising and keeps you watching. The financial markets run on fear (and greed). Fear is based in self-preservation; it’s all about me with little or no thought about anyone else. We hear about possible shortages on the news, so what do we do? We immediately run to the store and create the shortage!
Fear works. But fear doesn’t think rationally…or graciously.
And while much of our culture seems to run on fear, it’s a poor substitute for love.
We find fear at the bottom of just about everything bad in this world, just as we can find acts of other-centered, self-giving love behind just about everything good.
Does this mean we should “sneeze” at the current health threat? No, absolutely not. We should follow all recommended safety measures and practice social-distancing until the crisis is over. (Actually, we should be washing our hands and not sneezing on people anyway!)
And we do this because we are thinking of the other person’s welfare.
Fear is the opposite of love. They are mutually exclusive. You will either be driven by one or the other. You cannot be driven by both at the same time.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… (1 John 4:18a NKJV)
The best antidote to a life driven by fear is to encounter God’s love. And you can encounter this love from God himself or through others who demonstrate it.
Love never fails. Love always thinks of the highest good of the other person. Love doesn’t trample over people to get the last package of toilet paper. Love defers.
As I said last time, fear and panic are not fruits of the Spirit, and you were not given a spirit of fear.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim.1:7 NKJV)
And here’s another thing…
We have a choice about which one will rule our lives—fear or love.
I’ve also noticed during this time those who are driven by other-centered, self-giving love. The medical professionals, public servants,those ministering to people at high-risk, the elderly, and homeless. They’re the people putting themselves in harm’s way for our benefit.
I wonder if they’re hoarding toilet paper.
While we should be safe and use common sense, hoarding toilet paper says a lot about which emotion rules our lives. Let’s not give into this type of herd mentality, racing headlong over the cliff into fear and panic. Let’s walk in love instead.
Beloved, let’s use our heads and trust God. We’re called to be hope-bringers to a culture driven by fear. And this is the best opportunity for us to radiate with hope!
13 Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! (Rom.15:13 TPT)