You Get What You Pay For

My oldest daughter just finished her sophomore year in college. While we’re thrilled that Anna has chosen to attend Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, we’re not thrilled about the cost of tuition. Every year, the price of college outpaces inflation.

But I can’t blame colleges like hers for raising their tuition by 5-10% a year. Studies have shown that higher-priced schools attract better students. It just goes to show that people really believe “you get what you pay for.” In order to compete, colleges and universities are almost forced to increase their rates.

It seems like human nature to recognize that the cost we pay for something gives it increased value.

We’ll take a closer look at this in today’s reading. Please join me!

TODAY’S READING

2 Samuel 23:24-1 Kings 1:53
Acts 3:1-4:37
Psalm 123:1-124:8
Proverbs 16:21-24

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 23:24-1 Kings 1:53. As we begin, we read the names of David’s mighty fighting men. This tells us that David’s exploits were accomplished not by himself, but with the help of others.

Notice that Uriah’s name appears on the list. David forfeited the life of one of his top warriors in exchange for an affair. This certainly undermined the confidence the other men had in their king.

Second Samuel concludes, seamlessly transitioning into 1 Kings. Originally, 1 and 2 Kings were one book, but the people who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek (called the Septuagint) decided to break it into two parts.

Due to the death of his older brothers (Amnon and Absalom), Adonijah must have assumed the throne belonged to him. However, he never sought the blessing of his father…much to his dismay.

Acts 3:1-4:37. What I love about the story of the paralytic at the temple gate is how Peter couldn’t resist any opportunity to preach to the crowds—just like he did at Pentecost in chapter 2. Notice the graciousness in his voice. He tells them they crucified Jesus out of ignorance while explaining that God used their bad decision to bring salvation to the whole world (Acts 3:25).

The result? Five thousand men became followers of Jesus, not to mention their wives and perhaps children. Not bad for an impromptu sermon.

Then we read something that should encourage any person who believes that God can’t do anything significant through them:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

What made the difference? Being with Jesus. Not charisma. Not giftedness. Anyone can be with Jesus—which means anyone can be used by God to make a difference.

Psalm 123. This psalm expresses the longing of the psalmist for God’s mercy. Our longings reveal a great deal about our hearts.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

God was angry with Israel. We aren’t sure what fueled the anger nor are we told why taking a census was wrong. Everyday citizens of the various countries at that time didn’t appreciate censuses because they usually resulted in higher taxes, increased military quotas, and forced labor. For this reason, many of the surrounding cultures considered censuses to be a source of bad luck which could potentially incite their gods to anger.

Regardless, David’s actions in 2 Samuel 24 did incite God’s wrath. When asked to choose the source of judgment, David replied, “Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men” (verse 24).

Despite his flaws, David truly was a man after God’s heart because his assumption proved correct. God relented from his judgment before finishing the job.

This is a great window into God’s heart. David and Israel deserved judgment, but God’s mercy was so great, his love was so great, that he couldn’t bring himself to finish it.

There, at the spot where God relented, David chose the site where his son Solomon would later build the temple.

More impressive, when the owner offered to give the land to David, he replied, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (verse 24).

Our lives are a response to the generous grace and mercy that God bestows upon us. This is worship—every bit as much as those moments when we sing to God with other believers in church.

But meditating on David’s words reminds me that living a life of worshipful response to God doesn’t mean I live as I choose. “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

Sacrificial living isn’t a means of earning God’s grace and mercy, but it’s evidence that we’re thankful for Christ’s sacrifice for us.

What does this look like in our everyday lives?

Rather than ask God to bless the lives we’re already living, why not ask God to show us the kind of lives he blesses—and then live it?

Rather than regard lightly the price Jesus paid to forgive us, why not spend the rest of our lives thanking him for his generous gift?

Rather than worship in church in the way that’s most comfortable for you, why not worship God in the way that he deserves?

“I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What do you long for?
  3. What does it look like for you to live a life of gratefulness to God?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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