In the book world, there’s a lot of talk about whether it’s worthwhile to give things away for free. People are of multiple mindsets on this. Some think it’s a great way to draw in new readers. Others think it devalues our work. What I know is this: when I get something for free–by which I mean the item simply has no cost assigned to it–very rarely do I actually read it. Why? Because I have so many things waiting to be read that I paid for, or to which a definite value was attached. For instance, one of the perks of being an author with the Baker Group is that we get to pick out a few books from the catalogue each time we’re in it. But we’re given a set value. So I know every title I pick means another that I don’t. There’s still value there. The same goes for if I get a coupon or store credit/cash. It’s a set value. Each item I buy with it means another I don’t. There’s still a cost.

And then there are gifts. They cost us nothing. But we know there’s value, right? We know that someone who cares about us paid something for that item, or invested time in the creation of it. When Judith from church gave me hand-knitted tea cozies for Christmas, it wasn’t just a matter of the ten dollars of yarn, it was a matter of the hours upon hours I knew very well it took her to create that. It has value. It has worth.

Then there’s salvation. It’s free…but it’s not just free. It’s a free gift–paid for by Jesus. And my friends, it’s COSTLY. So, so costly. He couldn’t just offer us salvation with no cost to himself, because then it wouldn’t have value. It wouldn’t satisfy the debt that was owed. He paid it. And then He gave it. Free to us, but certainly not free to Him.

We know this, obviously. We use all the right words when we talk about it. But so often…so often I feel like we toss it around like a free download without really thinking about the value. Or at the least, without putting that value above everything else. We talk about the price Jesus paid, but because it isn’t a cost to us, we offer that so freely and yet don’t give of our own resources unless it’s convenient. We stop giving before it hurts.

He gave until it killed Him.

As we enter the season of Lent, those forty days leading up to His sacrifice, will you join me in really contemplating the cost of this free gift? Let’s pause each day to enumerate the cost.

  • Instead of a life of comfort, He chose the life of a wanderer
  • Instead of the security of a family, He chose to find family among the people who needed Him so desperately
  • Instead of making friends with the powerful, He brought the touch of Heaven to the weak
  • Instead of using His authority to bring Himself riches, He gave up everything to suffer with the poor
  • Instead of hoarding what He had to provide for Himself and His disciples, He took a little and multiplied it to feed the masses
  • Instead of seeking a peaceful life that ended in an easy death at a ripe old age, He offered His life up for us in His prime

Life is the most sacred thing in this world. It is so much more valuable than anything we can purchase with money, isn’t it? Who among us wouldn’t trade everything we have if necessary to keep our child or our spouse or our parent alive? Let me just tell you, when your baby is struggling to draw breath and fighting for consciousness, you don’t care how much the helicopter costs, you just want him to get the help he needs. Life is sacred. Life is precious. Life is beyond price.

And that’s what Jesus gave for us. Everything. Absolutely everything. Let’s make sure we pause to really appreciate that this year.

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