Almost everything in life can be regarded as an exchange of value or a trade of some kind. For example:
- We labour for ourselves or an organization in exchange for money.
- We exercise and work out in exchange for a healthy body.
- We treat a friend or spouse well, in exchange for their friendship and love in return.
This type of exchange or barter can also be applied to negative things. For example:
- A smoker exchanges money and their time for a puff of nicotine and temporal pleasure. These so-called benefits are exchanged for yellow teeth, lung problems, cancer, and a shortened life.
- Someone who drinks excessively and spends hours in a bar, exchanges this for reduced savings, and family time and nurturing a home.
- When you are not forgiving someone and holding on to hurt, you are exchanging this for the peace of God and even your own forgiveness when required. For Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14-15, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”. Wow, now this is a trade-off I never want to make, for I always need the mercy of God in my life and I cannot trade that for anything else.
As we can see, many aspects of life are an exchange or a swap, where we are constantly faced with a choice of picking one thing over the other. When we get up each day there are many choices to make and the better the quality of these choices, the better the quality of our life. As the cliché goes, “We are not a product of our circumstances, we are a product of our choices”, because these choices bring things to us.
I have many such decisions etched in memory where I exchanged God for something lesser, and I would like to share one instance. Some years ago, I was visiting my sister in England, and I decided to watch television late one night. After all, I was on vacation, and this was the time to switch off and enjoy my downtime. I remember watching television up until around 5am in the morning. But throughout the night I felt God literally tugging at my heart and saying, “Dane come pray, worship and spend time with me”. I even remember the last show I watched, it was the first instalment of the movie, “How to train Your Dragon”
Then immediately as the show finished, I recalled feeling extremely guilty for not doing what God had instructed me to. I felt God whisper in my ear, “Dane, all I wanted to do was spend time with you”. In my mind, it was like a parent working in their home office and a child coming and asking the parent to spend some time with them. After many attempts, the child leaves sad and dejected, thinking all I wanted to do is love my daddy and for my daddy to love me. Strange as it might seem, in that moment God was the child yearning to be with the one He loved, Me.
God continued to witness to me that morning saying, “Last night was not necessarily for me to give out to Him, but for Him to pour into me.” God just wanted to share Himself with me, but I missed out on that opportunity. Just as how God came down in the cool of the afternoon (Genesis 3:8) and spoke with Adam, I was afforded this opportunity, but instead I exchanged the richness of the presence of God for a cartoon movie – Dane with shame face on. What a poor trade-off I made that day, so much so that even when I replay the event today, I feel disappointed about what I exchanged God for.
Just in case you were wondering where all these thoughts are emanating from, allow me to explain. I was reading the book of Romans recently and chapter 1 verse 23 of Romans states:
“and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles”.
This scripture had me immediately thinking about what God said we are exchanging. We take the glory of this immortal and great God and exchange it for something lesser. We replace the Creator with the Creature. We replace the Creator with the created thing.
It’s like saying I will choose the painting over the painter, the song over the song writer or the computer programme over the programmer. While the created thing might be something wonderful, needed and adds value, how can we side-line the creator and choose an inanimate object as an option to cherish more? And the wider the difference in ability from the creator to the created thing, the more we should be choosing the creator.
With the creator we have direct access to the source, the producer, the originator himself. Why would anyone make this kind of exchange and opt to choose the object over something greater? But that is the type of exchange we do all the time when it comes to God.
As God’s servant, we must ask ourselves, “Do we truly know who we are serving, and how we are serving”? We must ask ourselves the hard questions.
- Am I replacing being in God’s presence through prayer and worship, in exchange for Netflix or YouTube and if so, how much so?
- Am I giving up helping someone in financial need, in exchange for an extra dollar in my pocket to buy some KFC or fill my cupboard or wardrobe with excess?
- Am I exchanging helping someone with a needy project, in exchange for lounging around my home doing nothing?
It’s time we start examining the Opportunity Cost of many of the decisions we make. The most important cost that we need to examine is our relationship with God. What are we exchanging for this?
Time flies so quickly and as we wink, we are old. Do you want to live in wasted years, only to realize that in the end you exchanged your life for perishable things? You had a chance to exchange your life and give it to the eternal Father, the divine and ever living God. But instead, you fell in love with the creatures and created things and served them, more than the creator God.
Today an opportunity has been given to us to stop, pull back, and examine our lives with greater scrutiny. Let’s stop trading and exchanging our soul, for the things that don’t profit.
I close by providing two scriptures which speak about images/idols and remember anything that we place ahead of God is an idol. Please have a read of these scriptures as they are some of my favorites.
PS: Dane Miller was last seen returning the created things he acquired, in exchange for the Creator.
Your Brother in the Lord,
Dane Miller | Authored Book – “God is the Author, I am the Pen”
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