My wife and I went on a small get-away vacation the past 4 days. We took a cruise to the Caribbean: just an out and back sort of thing. It was nice- we love cruising.
There is, on every cruise ship, a casino. Usually I don’t play, but now and then I do enjoy spending some money at the Black Jack table. I call it spending money because that’s what it usually comes down to. The trick for me is to choose to spend, let’s say $50, and see how long I can play with that.
There was another game there. It was like a claw game, but with a key-shaped end and you needed to line up this plunger so that it fit, exactly, through an opening. If you lined it up exactly, you could spend $1.00 and win $1,000.00 in cash.
I blew $50 trying. I still think it was a good investment- I spent a lot more than that for before-dinner martini’s.
Here’s the lesson I got from the Ruach about the Dollar for a Grand game- sin is just like that game. It promises a greatly desired return for what seems to be a small cost. It’s the “Get Something for Nothing” mentality of humans that makes sin so easy to creep into our life.
When I was a salesman I often heard people tell me about unscrupulous sales people who took advantage of others. When I listened to these stories, many of which are true, it reminded me of the old Bunko stories (con games used to be called Bunko): the one thing they all had in common was that the “victim” was suckered into the scheme because there was the promise of getting a lot back for a little up front.
Selfishness and greed- that is what gets people “ripped off”. Honest people with ein bissele seychel (Yiddish for” a little common sense”) almost never get “taken”. It’s usually the ones who think they can get a deal.
Sin doesn’t come right up to you and say, “Hi! I’m sin and I want to ruin your life.” Of course, in some neighborhoods it can be almost like that, but generally sin is more secretive. It says, “Hi. I have something that I know you would want, and I am open to discussing giving it to you at a really great rate. All you need to do is …..” and by then you’re hooked. It starts slow and easy, with no real indication of where it’s taking you, but once you fall for the something-for-nothing allure you are on your way.
That’s how I blew $50. It started with $20, then another $10. Later that night I thought I figured out how to make it work, so there went another $20. At that point, I stopped thinking how easily I could earn (earn? Really?) back the cost of the entire cruise and listened to the Ruach say, “Vas machsta? Bist du meshuggah?” (What’s going on? Are you crazy?”)
I must confess that I still, days later, feel that if I only put another $20 or so into it I could have beaten that machine. You know what that means? That not only am I foolishly greedy, but now pridefulness is stepping in, too. Now I need to “beat” that inanimate object that is specifically designed by mechanical engineers to make me feel like just one more try and I’ll win. But, in truth, it is nearly impossible to do so.
We need to be careful about sin creeping into our lives. It always promises things that we want, it appeals to our sinful nature: it appeals to our greediness, our pride, our vanity. It usually appears harmless, and often will seem like something we should do to benefit others ( I was thinking how happy Donna would be if I won the money.) But when we look at it through spiritual eyes, we can see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There is an old saying: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sin is like that; it looks good, it seems easy enough to do, and it offers great rewards for very little input. Don’t be fooled by ‘easy gets good’, because we all know, in the long run, anything worth having is worth working for, and you always get what you pay for. If you think you will get something for nothing in a world that is cursed, you’re a fool.
Don’t be a fool. The only thing that is good to have and is free of charge is Salvation, the Grace that God offers us. Well, wait a minute- that wasn’t free, really. First of all, Yeshua had to suffer and die to make it available to us, so it certainly wasn’t free to Him. And even though all we need to do is call on the name of the Lord to be saved, we need to work at our salvation. We need to demonstrate our T’Shuvah by becoming more holy. We need to stop sinning, or at least, continue to sin less. We need to work at it, we need to spend time and money to make ourselves better and more pleasing to God by doing the things that God told us to do. That isn’t easy, and it will cost money (you should tithe and give to charity), it will cost time (you should volunteer to help people and participate in synagogue/church activities), and it will cost you (some) friends and family if you really start to worship God in everything you do.
Sin is easy to get, promises to cost you little and give you a lot, but the truth is eventually it will cost you everything you have, and more. There is no reward to sin.
Salvation is free to get, but expensive to keep. However, the ultimate reward is worth it.