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by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa

February, 2003

Everyone likes to get a bargain. We all like to think we got a good deal, if not the best deal. Some of us are natural bargain hunters while others seem to have been born without the "bargain gene."

Recently, I participated in a discussion on the subject, "What's the best $1 you've ever spent?" The participants ranged in age from their twenties to their fifties. The responses were as varied as the people were. One woman mentioned a bag of headbands she bought for her daughter, some kitchen towels she purchased and gave as gifts, and some plastic laundry baskets. Another woman mentioned a set of knobs she acquired for her electric guitar. A few people, myself included, mentioned books we had purchased, either new or used. I bought one of our ten-year-old daughter, Monica's, favorite books for about a dollar at an auction.

As the discussion continued, I thought of things that aren't necessarily material. For example, like most parents, I’ve purchased a number of small things for Monica. None of these things were significant in themselves but they brought joy to a little girl. A child's smile for less than a dollar has to be one of the world’s great bargains. A phone call or letter to a special friend or loved one is usually less than a dollar but it can mean a great deal, as well as being a great deal. The call I made to my wife, Charlotte, when I asked her out on our first date, cost less than a dollar but it led the way to the marriage and the life I have today -- less than a dollar for more than twenty years of true love! But something that doesn't cost very much is not necessarily a bargain. Something that doesn't work properly or doesn't fit is no bargain no matter how cheap it is.

Jesus knew about our desire to get a "bargain." He touched on this in the parable of "The Pearl of Great Price" (Matt. 13:45-46). The merchant in the parable who found the pearl knew it was valuable and that it was worth having. For him, the price of the pearl -- whatever it may have been -- was a bargain.

Jesus wanted his followers to know that not all treasures are physical or material: "'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'" (Matt. 6:19-21 NIV.) Where is our treasure? What do we value? Why?

It may surprise you but we are treasures too. "'They will be mine,' says the LORD Almighty, 'in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.'" (Mal. 3:17 NIV.) God treasures God's people and wants the best for them. God treasures and loves us so much that God sent Jesus to die for us. God has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within those who believe (I Cor. 6:19-20). From a human point of view, our salvation is quite a bargain. There is no cost to us. But we ". . . were bought at a price." (I Cor. 6:20a NIV.) And yet, there is nothing we can offer in exchange; we have no intrinsic value that would make us worthy of God's gifts. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (II Cor. 4:7 NIV.) Our salvation ". . . is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8b-9 NIV.) Christ purchased the church for himself with his own blood (Acts 20:28b).

If you knew about a terrific bargain, you'd tell everyone you knew. And yet, we have already discovered the greatest bargain in all history, our salvation. Christ paid the price for us and for all humanity. God's love is truly priceless (Psa. 36:7a). This bargain is ours to accept. Everyone is welcome. We owe it to everyone we know to spread the word about the "deal of the century."

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:4-9 NIV.)

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Copyright © 2003 by David Phelps