I have these rules of life, 27 at last count. They aren’t in any particular order or priority and I don’t call them by their number in some kind of code. The second one on the list goes something like this – Everything in life is a trade-off. (I wrote about the first rule here.)
What I mean by that less than poetic observation is there are rewards and consequences to every choice we make and every step we take. Consider outdoor grills for a moment. I could save money upfront and buy the cheap one or spend more with the expectation that it will work better and last longer. That’s one example. When it comes to outdoor grills (and a lot of other things) my experience says to buy the more expensive one but not the most expensive one.
It doesn’t always work that way of course. Sometimes the extra expense of an item is for something intangible. It could be the assurance of quality, workmanship, or support a brand name offers. It might be the feelings of prestige owning something with a certain brand name may give us. But even here there are still trade-offs to consider. Is that intangible something really worth it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The point of the rule is to recognize the trade-offs involved so a heads up decision is arrived at. If I commit to doing X it will bring Y but cost Z. If I lay in bed an extra two hours in the morning I will feel well-rested and relaxed but it may cost me my job. Better get up and get going.
Jesus taught something similar, “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’” (Luke 14:28–30, NLT) He said this in relation to the cost of following Him.
What? I thought grace and salvation were free! Yes and no – everything in life is a trade-off (I really do mean everything, contrary to what another rule says about avoiding the infinitives of all, every, and always.) Yes, we don’t earn or buy our way into God’s good grace. We are invited to freely enter in. The cost, however, is stepping down from the throne of our lives and welcoming Christ’s kingship. There may be things, habits, thoughts, and activities Jesus asks us to lay down along with new things, habits, thoughts, and activities to pick up. That’s the cost of walking with Jesus. I found that it is a trade well worth making (even if few understand it).
Everything in life is a trade-off. There are rewards, benefits, gains, risks, consequences, and loss to every step we take, every decision we make. You traded a few moments of your time to read these words, I hope you found something in them worthy of that expense.