The Lesson of the Paperclip

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. –Ephesians 2:10

The ingenious little device known as the paperclip has been in use for well over 100 years. Unlike so many items of “old technology,” there’s no retirement in sight for the tool that most of us use to keep our important papers together. I read an article recently from the archives of Time magazine, from the July 17, 1958 issue to be exact, that revealed results from a Lloyd’s Bank survey on the fate of 100,000 paperclips (It must have been a slow time in the banking business!) The survey yielded the following information: Out of 100,000 paperclips, 25,000 fell to the floor and were swept away, 19,413 were used as chips in card-games, 14,163 were twisted or broken during phone conversations, 7,200 were used as temporary replacements for broken buttons, snaps, or zippers, 5,434 were used as toothpicks or ear cleaners, 5,308 were used to clean fingernails, 3,916 were used as pipe cleaners, leaving only 20,000 paper clips which served their proper function. It stinks to be a paperclip, if you ask me!

How wasteful that 80% of paperclips are never utilized for their intended purpose. It also seems to me that people are a lot like paperclips! Just as the creator designed the paperclip for a specific purpose (Johan Vaaler, 1899), God has created each one of us purposely, to fulfill His own design. Today’s Scripture passage speaks to the heart of that issue: “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Still, like the paperclip, far too many people do not fulfill the purpose for which they were created. How tragic! But it doesn’t have to be this way!

We fulfill the purpose of our Creator when we live according to the principle Jesus states in Matthew 10:39, which reads, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” We truly become all that God intends for us to be when we decide to make following Jesus our top priority. Today, may the “lesson of the paperclip” motivate you to live your life as God designed you to live!

1. When has your life demonstrated that you are living according to His design? When has your life demonstrated otherwise?

2. What change(s) would have to take place in your life for you to be confident that you are living consistently as God has designed you to live?

John 10:10; James 4:17; 1 Samuel 13:13-14

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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