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Guided Living: There’s No Such Thing As “Something for Nothing”

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Have you ever met that person who’s always trying to get a good deal? I’m not talking about the coupon clippers or the penny pinchers. I’m talking about the person who’s always trying to get something for nothing. The one who’s always looking out for number one, not matter what or who gets in their way. These types of people are the epitome of takers, because they get their self worth and their need for significance based on what they can get from other people. Their personal ethics are often very loose, and they don’t mind taking advantage of a situation or person if it benefits them even just a little.

My favorite quote from a movie comes from the Coen brothers adaptation of "True Grit". It's a true western in the traditional sense. And it’s about one girl’s journey to avenge the murder of her father by the criminal Tom Chaney. The girl, Mattie, teams up with an old, salty bounty hunter named Rooster. And the two go off together in what turns out to be a dramatic and sometimes comical journey for justice. As Mattie talks about the senseless murder of her father she says, “No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot-free. But he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothin' free, except the grace of God.”

Even Mattie was a bit wrong in her idea of grace. Because it did cost something. The life of our Savior (John 3:16). But this only solidifies what I know to be true. There is nothing free in this life. And this is what our friends who are always trying to get something for nothing don’t realize. They may get the “deal of the day”, but at what cost? Their friends, their co-workers, their marriage?

In Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, he talks about what it might be like to be married to someone like this...

“We tend to size up potential partners as to their assets and deficits. And in the end we feel we want to marry this person because he or she brings a lot to the table for us. It is almost impossible not to think in terms of how much I am putting into the marriage and how much my spouse is putting in. And if we are getting out of the relationship as much (or a bit more, we secretly hope) than we put in, we are happy. But as time goes on, we come to see our spouse’s flaws. And if those flaws persist, and we find that we are now not getting out of the marriage as much as we had hoped for when we made our initial investment, then we begin to do what anyone in business does. If revenues are down, cut expenditures. And so if my wife is not being the wife she ought to be, I simply will not put in the effort to be the husband I used to be.”

Do you see how backwards and selfish that thinking is? The vows we took didn’t say, “As long as it benefits me.” And if this is the basis for your marriage, then you are actually going to find yourself in a world of hurt. And that hurt will cost you more than you ever realized. Because God’s economy doesn’t work that way. In God’s economy the last are first, and the first are last (Matthew 20:16). The man who loses his life will save it (Luke 9:24). The people who choose to live this way don’t try and get something for nothing. They will give up anything to gain everything. And their relationships may be one sided from time to time, but the joy they gain in the long run is unsurpassed because it is spiritual in nature. It comes from the one who gave up His life so that we may live (Romans 8:32).

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