Friday, March 4, 2011

Are We Guilty of Trying to Get Something for Nothing?

Even my frugal father, who grew up during the Depression, and was an avid bargain hunter, used to say: “You can't get something for nothing.” But there is ‘something’ in all of us that wants to. It’s the ‘something’ that motivates people to buy lottery or raffle tickets, or cut out coupons. It explains the success of Costco and Wal-Mart. And if you’ve crossed the border to Mexico or vacationed in any developing country, you know that bargaining is the norm—“you never pay full price.”

So is it possible this bargaining mentality affects us in our interactions with God? I fear that many people approach God (however unconsciously) with the idea they can lay claim to His promises while measuring their commitment. We don’t like to think there is a ‘quid pro quo’ (this for that) with God, yet most of His promises come with conditions. The book of Deuteronomy—Moses’ last words—is full of these “if you do this, God will do that” statements. Before you dismiss these as Old Testament caveats, consider Paul’s many conditional statements. For example, “I preached the gospel… in which you stand, by which you are saved, IF you hold it fast…”; “He has now reconciled [you] in order to present you holy and blameless…PROVIDED THAT you continue in the faith…” (1 Cor. 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23).

In other words, the price of God’s blessings is, and has been since the Garden, obedience. You’ve heard the expression “grace is free, but not cheap.” The price that Jesus paid for our salvation was His life—obedience unto death (Phil 2:8). How can we be so naïve to think we can limit our “spending” for God? Now, here's another idiom: “You get what you pay for.”


  1. Greg,

    I have in my possession a book that documents many of the most overwhelming revivals that have ever taken place. What strikes me the deepest is not so much the mass salvations or healings or miracles--though they all are testimonies to the power of our loving God to save, heal, and deliver. But it was the following through of individuals in daily, disciplined, impassioned prayer and seeking of the face of God preceding the outbreak that brought the "times of refreshing" for so many.

    I am reminded of King David's response to God's judgment upon Jerusalem for David's sin of pride. When he had come to his spiritual senses he recognized that he was required to offer a sacrifice to atone for his sin that his people might be spared. As king he could have demanded anyone's property upon which to build the sacrificial altar. Someone, a man named Araunah, volunteered his land for free. But David refused the offer as Scripture records,
    2 Sam 24:24-25

    24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

    25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

    There is no "bargain revival." Neither is there "bargain reighteousness" or "bargain good works." And assuredly there is no "bargain repentance! "What we offer to the Lord needs to cost us something. If we sow sparingly we shall reap sparingly; if we sow bountifully we shall reap bountifully.


  2. GREAT Word, Stan. I love it--a great alternative title "That which costs me nothing."