I used to think I needed to sacrifice for God, but now I know faith is like a game of Bigger and Better.
When I was a kid we used to play a game called Bigger and Better. You probably played the same game when you were young too. In this game, everybody starts with something of little value, like a dime, and then everybody heads out into the neighborhood to see what they can it trade for. You knock on people’s doors and ask if they’d be willing to trade something for the dime, and then you go to the next door with whatever they traded you. The goal is to come back with a bigger, better thing than you started out with. The bigger it is, the better it is.
My son Richard set out with a dime awhile back. He went to the first door and said, “Hi, we’re playing Bigger and Better. I’ve got a dime, and I’m hoping to trade up to something bigger. Do you have anything you can trade me?” The guy at the door had never heard of this game. Nevertheless, he was immediately in and he shouted over his shoulder to his wife, “Hey, Marge, there’s a kid here and we’re playing Bigger and Better.” (I love that he said “we.”) “What do we have that’s bigger and better than a dime?” Richard walked away with a mattress.
Rich went with his buddies to the next door and they knocked while Rich stood on the porch with his mattress. The door opened and his muffled voice could barely be heard as he shouted through the Serta pillow top asking if this next neighbor would trade with him for something bigger and better than a mattress. A little while later, he skipped away from the house having traded the mattress for a Ping-Pong table.
Richard wheeled the Ping-Pong table to the next house and traded up for an elk head. How cool is that? I would have stopped there, but Rich didn’t. He kept trading up. By the end of the night, when Rich came home, he didn’t have a dime or a mattress, a Ping-Pong table or an elk head, or the five other things he traded up. Richard drove home in a pickup truck. No lie. He started with a dime and ended up with a Dodge.
I remember reading this quote from C. S. Lewis where he says,
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
That quote reminds me of a passage in the Bible about a young guy who had a lot of money. He was a good guy, very religious, kept the commandments and the whole bit. Jesus told this upstanding guy that if he really wanted to know God, he needed to sell all his possessions and follow Him. The man was sad about the exchange. Like me, he liked his stuff, but he liked Jesus too. Ultimately, though, that young man decided he’d worked too hard for what he had, whatever he had to trade to get to Jesus was just too important, and what Jesus had to offer was just too intangible. So he chose to keep his stuff rather than follow Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t have this conversation to shame the rich young ruler. The challenge that comes into sharp relief is whether we are willing to give up all we have to follow Him, to know God. Are we willing to trade up? It’s a question worth asking because the answer will shape your life one way or the other.
We’ve all given up something at one time or another. At first, it always feels like a huge sacrifice to give up what we’ve got. To Jesus, though, it’s no sacrifice at all. Think about it from His perspective. He comes from heaven, where He has an amazing love relationship with the Father, which, by its nature, is the most beautiful existence any person could have. And He offers that to anybody willing to let go of whatever is giving them a false sense of security. Why would anybody not make that trade? Jesus is basically saying, “Look, none of the stuff you have is going to last, including you. You’ve only got about a dime’s worth of life now. Come and trade up, come follow Me, and you can know God.” In that sense, Jesus isn’t requesting a sacrifice at all. He’s asking us to play Bigger and Better, where we give up ourselves and end up with Him.
It’s important to note here that Jesus didn’t ask everybody to give up all their stuff. This is something He asked of the rich young ruler because He wanted to teach the young man that he wasn’t as holy as he thought he was. He wanted to teach the young man that he still needed God’s help, to look at what he had and decide whether he would rather have that, or trade up and have what Jesus is offering: a life with Him.
Actually, the real game of Bigger and Better that Jesus is playing with us usually isn’t about money or possessions or even our hopes. It’s about our pride. He asks if we’ll give up that thing we’re so proud of, that thing we believe causes us to matter in the eyes of the world, and give it up to follow Him. He’s asking us, “Will you take what you think defines you, leave it behind, and let Me define who you are instead?”
The cool thing about taking Jesus up on His offer is that whatever controls you doesn’t anymore. People who used to be obsessed about becoming famous no longer care whether anybody knows their name. People who used to want power are willing to serve. People who used to chase money freely give it away. People who used to beg others for acceptance are now strong enough to give love.
When we get our security from Christ, we no longer have to look for it in the world, and that’s a pretty good trade.
Do you know what Rich did with that truck? He gave it away. He drove it to a church down the street and tossed them the keys. He didn’t need it and didn’t want it and what he got in exchange for it was bigger and better still. He got a sense of satisfaction, confidence, and reaffirmation that stuff didn’t have control over him. While it was a good story to have traded up and gotten a truck, it was an even better story, a more whimsical one, to have given it away in the end. And he got to serve God, not by sacrificing, but by trading up in the way he lives his life. Although he started with just a dime, he walked away with a great example of how Jesus sees us in the world.
Religious people say that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. I agree. But there’s more. Jesus invites us to stand at the door of His house and do some knocking too. And when He opens a door, He wants us to bring all of the faith we have to Him, even if it’s just a dime’s worth. And He promises that He will trade up with us — because He Himself is what we have the chance to trade for. And what we’ll have to give in exchange for knowing Him is everything we’ve accumulated during our lives and are standing on the porch holding on to.
Excerpted with permission from Love Does by Bob Goff, copyright Bob Goff.
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Today, let’s ask the Lord to show us what we’re hanging onto and to help us release it for the Bigger and Better He has for us instead! Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily