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.”