An old Spanish proverb has God saying to people, “Take what you want and pay for it.” I don’t know who first wrote this proverb, although many writers have quoted it including Tana French, Robert Jordan, and Agatha Christie.
Think about this proverb. Take what you want and pay for it. Every choice we make, good or bad, is a choice we pay for. We can choose to cheat on a test, but if caught we face expulsion. We can choose to live extravagantly, borrowing to the limit, but one accident might mean we would lose our house. Choose to lie but risk being caught in the lie. Everything has a price.
This includes choices for good. Choosing to follow God faithfully means sometimes we miss out on the fun things our friends are doing. Giving our money to good causes means we might eat out less often. Being faithful in marriage might mean we have to swallow our anger or say no to an alluring invitation. Living our lives for Jesus Christ means we might have to stop watching a television show, or start calling our congresspeople, or march with the oppressed. We make many choices and we have to pay for every one. Harry Emerson Fosdick suggests that we pay for the good choices when we first make them and reap the benefits later. He also says “when we choose evil we get what we want at once and then pay for it afterward.”
Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about when he told the parable of the pearl. “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46.
What expensive choices have you made in your life? What sacrifices have come at great cost and yet been totally worth it?
When I look at my life, I know there are choices that were wrong – and I paid for them. But I also know that there are some choices that were right – and I paid for them. But I do not count those costs, because the choices were totally worth it: my marriage, my son, my ministry, my Savior.
“Take what you want and pay for it.” When we make wrong choices, the cost seems much too high. When we make right decisions – following God and choosing a piece of the Kingdom of Heaven – the cost may be high but we do not count it as too much. And, of course, all of us can choose the free gift of God’s grace. Even though it is free for us to choose (or not), it came at a great cost to God.