Shrinkflation - The Warrior's Journey®


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A recent NPR article described how Edgar Dworsky, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general and longtime consumer advocate, is crusading against “shrinkflation.”  Shrinkflation is another word for product downsizing. It’s the scheme many companies utilize to cut costs while avoiding price increases.

If you shop for groceries, then you’ve witnessed shrinkflation. Dworsky’s prime examples come from the breakfast cereal section. He notes that the new “Family Sizes” are getting smaller, though the price remains the same. Consequently, the consumer pays the same price for less cereal. For instance, on one visit to his local supermarket, Dworsky noticed both the old “Family Size” and the new “Family Size” were stocked side by side. The old “Family Size” had a net weight of 19.3 ounces. The new, taller but much thinner, “Family Size” weighed in at 18.1 ounces. Yet their price was the same.

When he contacted the manufacturer (General Mills), he was told that this was an effort to deal with increasing labor and supply costs. Rather than raise their prices, they chose to reduce the amount. General Mills did this with the knowledge that consumers are far more “price conscious” than “net-weight conscious.”

But at least this was an honest answer. Other companies conveyed the idea that this was all an effort to help consumers “eat healthier” (i.e. eat less). When he questioned one bathroom tissue manufacturer on why their rolls contained fewer squares than before – and even reduced the size of each square – the answer was wholly disingenuous. “We’re trying to be ecologically friendly” and “We’re assisting consumers to be less wasteful” was the import of their answer.

Shrinkflation is everywhere. It’s inflation in disguise. Instead of raising prices, companies offer less for the same price. And it’s only a matter of time before the “Family Size” gets even smaller – or the price goes up, or both.

But I’m not highlighting shrinkflation to discourage you. Instead, I want to draw a contrast between humanity’s stinginess and God’s generosity.

God doesn’t sell, He gives. And He never tries to make a profit off what He gives us. In one sense you could say that God invests in us. He invests all the blessings He pours into our lives, His continual activity to protect and sustain us, and the life and blood of His own Son to redeem us. But God is never trying to make a profit. He’s not trying to “get a return on His investment.”  He saved us and wants to conform us into the image of His Son – to prepare us for His Judgment Seat and Heaven’s glories. But His love for us is never performance-based.

Our relationship with God is never like the person who pedals a foot-powered generator – the harder he pedals, the brighter the light bulb shines. In other words, the harder we slave for Him the more He loves us. No, the light of God’s love burns brightly and consistently whether we’re strong or weak, whether we’re good or bad, and whether we succeed or fail. And God’s unconditional love for us should only make us want to please Him more.

In one sense, God is the wisest investor – in that His vote of confidence in us should be a tremendous encouragement. Anyone in whom God invests His love is sure to succeed. But on the other hand, we might also say that God is a wasteful investor, in that He gives immensely more than He will ever receive back from us.

God is not like corporate America. He doesn’t scheme to always seek a better profit from a smaller product. God doesn’t measure-out His blessings upon us in ever decreasing amounts. In Romans 5:5 Paul tells us that God “pours out” His love into us. The prophet Joel prophesied that God would “pour out” His spirit upon all humanity (Joel 2:28-29). Paul said as much in Titus 3:5-6, as did Isaiah (Isaiah 32:15). When Paul reflected on his sins as a persecutor of Christ’s church, he confessed that God had “poured out” his grace upon him (1 Timothy 1:14). Isaiah tells us that Jesus “poured out” His life unto death (Isaiah 53:12).

Note, that when something is “poured out,” it is given without measure or restraint. God’s generous giving is not like one of those “water-saving” showerheads that is so stingy with water that it barely gives forth a fine mist. No, God lavishes His supply of grace and love upon us.

Note, also that when something is “poured out,” there’s no intention of retrieving it. Things that are “poured out” are given forever. God’s bounty to us is like “water poured upon the ground which cannot be gathered up again” (2 Samuel 14:14). God will never withdraw His free gifts of salvation, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and eternal life (John 10:28-29; 14:16; Romans 6:23). They are ours forever.

Therefore, God’s people should follow His example. They should not give sparingly, but liberally. “For whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). God loves a cheerful or generous giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). For God Himself gives generously to all, and He is always pleased when His children seek to be like Him. In the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35)

PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, open my eyes and help me to better understand Your love for me. You are not stingy. You don’t miserly measure out Your blessings to me. You pour them out unreservedly, knowing that You’ll get nearly nothing in return. But, Father, You take great pleasure in giving. And You’ll take greater pleasure if I only learn to thank You and seek to be like You in my own giving to others. Therefore, dear Father, help me to be like You in everything – in love, holiness, forgiveness, and giving. I ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son. Amen.

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