Something for Nothing
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37
Have you found any real bargains lately? Found any good buys? A trait of human nature makes us all want to get something for a good price. Haven't you ever come home from a big sale with items you saved so much on, but really did not need? That dress that really did not fit, or that shirt with a collar an inch too big. Nearly everybody, when he or she is honest, will have to admit that he has something he does not need, or even did not really want, something that did not fit, but bought it anyway because it was a bargain. You, too? Welcome to the club. Why did you do it, anyway? Because it was a bargain? But have you really saved when it does not fit? We are all bargain hunters because of that tendency of human nature to want something for nothing.
From the least to the greatest our nature within us looks for a bargain. Is there really such a thing as a bargain, something for nothing? Perhaps. Does God have any bargains? Can you really get Him to do something for you, and get it for nothing? It is true that you could never hope to be deserving of God's grace, but is it entirely right for us to expect God to provide us with dirt-cheap bargains? Some believe so. A popular religious lyric proves my point. The words of the song go, "Faith and prayer put God to work for you. Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find, for faith and prayer put God to work for you."
This concept makes God a divine office boy, and prayer, a kind of string pulling. It makes God’s Son a kind of religious Dale Carnegie who tells you how to rise above mediocrity and failure. When you think about it for a moment, I think you will see how the idea behind this is getting God to do something for you, pretty much something for nothing in return. Today, religious experiences are marketed as a “get next to God and feel good about yourself.” It’s no longer about a conversion from sin to repentance and faith in God.
One of the leading psychiatrists of the past century, Dr. Erich Fromm, a man who is by no means noted as a preacher, once said, "Revival of religious interest is as superficial as the wave of atheism twenty years ago." It is trying to "combine the ideas of the Judeo‑Christian religion with the ideas of Dale Carnegie. One is encouraged to use the ideas of the Bible to sell oneself rather than to see the profound cleavage between the teachings of the Bible and the materialism by which everyone lives today."
Eric Fromm was right! God has no bargains! The Bible never suggests that God responds to the pleas of “Hey, God, can’t we make a deal?” What He does, God does because He loves you, and you can never repay Him in kind. That’s what grace is about.
A few days ago a woman asked me to pray for her husband and son who were in desperate trouble. With tears coursing down her cheeks, she said, "God's just got to help us." I asked her, "Before I pray with you, could I ask you something?" She nodded. Then I asked, "Have you given your heart to Christ?" She shook her head negatively. I thought, how much like human nature! We want God to deliver us from our problems yet we are not willing to give ourselves to Him in return. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37). When we come, He also says, "If you love Me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
While we are never in a position to bargain with the Almighty, we can respond to His invitation of love and mercy. That’s the Good News of the Gospel.
Resource reading: 1 John 1:1-10