Our American culture has become slave to the "something for nothing" mentality. We shop for the best deals. Clip coupons till our hands lock in a claw position around the scissors. Dollar Stores, Dollar Trees and Family Dollars abound. Commercials tell us to never pay "full price for fabulous," so shop TJ Maxx and Marshals (Okay, if I must). Mall kiosk's are home to knock off designer brands because we want the style without the price tag. Tires for Less is as good as the big Michelin Man, right? Men are always searching for the next deal on the best cable package, switching as often as the latest promotion.
We want what we want, when we want it at a price that is less then THEY want us to pay. Sound like the typical American consumer? Actually it sounds like the typical American when it comes to more then just consumption habits. This trend expands far beyond the cash register and into the hearts of home, relationships, work, child rearing...you name it and chances are the something for nothing culture has infiltrated.
The trouble with this line of thinking is that it yields lousy results when it comes to the emotional and spiritual health of the individual. Try putting in nothing and having a successful marriage. Or how about putting in nothing and being a valued employee at work? What about raising kids? Putting in nothing? Good luck with that! And, in my opinion the greatest potential for disaster, the relationship with God that lies stagnant. The danger of sitting back and expecting God to pile on blessings and opportunities without having to put in any tender love and care into the relationship is risky business. It has dire consequences that far exceed the mistake of buying Dollar Store batteries that die in a day. Both give birth to frustration, one is eternal, the other can be remedied with a stop at CVS.
Having a relationship with God shouldn't be about what we get in return. It isn't a "I give you and hour and you give me a pony" sort of transaction. We don't put in our time in exchange for the fulfillment of our latest and greatest request. If that is all we are considering when we are spending time in daily devotional or attending Sunday school then we are making a fatal error. God is not Santa. He is not there to give us what we are asking for simply because we ask nicely. And he isn't counting the amount of time we put into our relationship with him to calculate what we get in return. If we approach God with that attitude then we are simply taking our smallest effort, greatest return principle into our spiritual life. Instead, we should be approaching God with a heart burning to know him more, not to receive our latest human desire. We must throw aside our culture that screams "what's in it for me?"
If our most precious relationship becomes a hand out machine, we start looking for the best deal - isn't that only natural? We take what we know about bargain shopping and transfer it to the blessing machine we have substituted for God. So instead of attending Sunday school maybe we skip it and just show up for the service and hour later. Instead of waking up a half an hour early for a devotional time the snooze button gets hit more and more frequently. What can we get from God with this amount of effort?... and a little less?.... and a little less?... and the downward spiral continues.
Our culture wants us to put in nothing. They want us to view the world through the lens of "what's in it for me?" But God doesn't use that lens. He wants to give you an entirely new pair of glasses. These glasses don't concern themselves with self indulgence and self interest. They are entirely fixed on God: his character, his love and his will. Selflessness blots out self preservation. Obedience reigns supreme.
To put on these glasses means taking off the old pair that see the world through a bargain hunter lens. Put down those old pair of shades that want the latest and greatest without having to lay down the sticker price. Ditch the popular mentality of getting everything without putting in anything.
Instead, put on God's glasses. Don't worry about what you will get. Just give of yourself. Just seek to bathe yourself in the attributes and Word of God. Chances are you won't see a return in a form that carries a price tag. Your reward will be something much greater - greater then anything offered on the store shelves of even the priciest boutique. Your reward is in heaven.
Even TJ Maxx prices can't compete with that.