Monday, October 26, 2009

The Price of Free

Love is free, but it still comes with a price. Consider this: if you're given a free new car but you don't put any gas in it, that car isn't going to do you much good. You don't have to pay the person who gave it to you, but you can't use it either. Your benefactor wanted to give you the gift of worry-free transportation, but because you wouldn't invest anything in it, all you've got is a shiny new lawn decoration. Likewise, the person who gives you love doesn't demand repayment, but if you don't make a contribution, you won't get to fully enjoy the gift.

Christians argue with each other a lot about faith and works and how they relate to righteousness. Some argue that if we receive salvation for free then nothing obligates us to be good. Sure, God's not demanding that we be righteous in exchange for His love and forgiveness, but if we aren't moved to be better people, then we aren't really benefiting from God's gifts. Salvation doesn't just mean a free ticket to heaven after we die. Salvation is a chance to be fully alive, and the person who truly receives God's gift of salvation will experience that newness of life long before arriving in heaven. If we're interested solely in prolonging our existence, then our existence probably isn't worth prolonging. I believe that we can only give our lives meaning by choosing to respond to the gifts we've been given, even if nothing is forcibly demanded of us.

There's no such thing as an effortless relationship. If I want to gain something from a friendship, then I need to make an effort. Who cares that someone loves me if I would be absolutely the same person whether I had a relationship with that person or not? Growth is the point of love, but growth requires effort. Others give us love for free, but that's all they can do. We have to make the effort to respond to that love in order to receive the full benefits of the gift they've given. A well-meaning visitor can move the potted plants in my house into the sunlight for me, but if I don't water them, they'll still die. When we are given a beautiful free gift, I think we have a responsibility to make sure it's not wasted. Love is more than a gift—it's a challenge to be the best people that we can be. Shouldn't we make the effort to meet that challenge?

Love is free, but I'm still going to pay a price when I receive it.  I don't think it's too much to ask for me to put in a little effort in order to enjoy the full benefits of my free gift. After all, it is a free gift, and that's a pretty sweet deal. I'm not inclined to complain about the price of free when it comes to love. I know what a great gift I've been given, so my gratitude outweighs my laziness. If God and my neighbors care about me enough to love me freely, then I want to do whatever it takes to make the most of that beautiful gift, not squander it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really love your expression of the balance between unconditional love and the response that it prompts.
I have known very few people who can offer the love that is truly a gift with no strings attached. When people offer that kind of love to others,we want to do everything that we can to give back!

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