But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Number 32:23
It didn’t sound good and sure enough it wasn’t. There are a couple of things that are for certain and one of them is if you have a car it will eventually let you down. It doesn’t matter the make or model, eventually, if you own it long enough, its gonna happen.
I remember more than a few years ago Judy and I headed over to Ridgecrest, North Carolina. She was the Illinois Trustee to LifeWay which is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. She loved serving and I loved tagging along every once in a while. On Tuesday night while she was in a meeting I decided to take a trip to Wal-Mart which was about 10 miles away. Without any warning, without even a hint of impending disaster, the van’s engine began to misfire and the dreaded check engine light began flashing. I started praying and confessing every sin I could think of cause 10 miles was a long way to walk.
Well, I made it back to Ridgecrest and the next morning told one of the folks I had engine trouble and they found a good local mechanic. Seven hours later he calls and tells me he can’t get it to stop—he was at his wits end and thought it had to be the computer. He towed it to the Ford dealer in Asheville and we waited. Hmmmm.
They called two hours later and gave us the news—they were pretty sure it was a broken valve spring. My response was, “A broken what?” Well, in fact, that turned out to be the problem. And it turned out that it was an unusual problem that rarely happens. You know what happens when something is rare don’t you? That’s right…it is expensive and hard to find.
That actually turned out the sorta, kinda true. More on that in a minute. So this rather rare thing, of course, wasn’t in stock anywhere in the area and it had to be ordered. So we waited patiently—ok, sorta patiently—and Friday morning—actually a little earlier than expected—the car was finally ready. We took off and got home Friday night around 9:00 pm. So you know there is a lesson in all of this, right?
Ok, so the bill for the repair was somewhere over $400. Hello? That would be four portraits of Benjamin Franklin. And even though this was years ago…I am still grateful that we had the funds to cover it. But here is the crazy part. The part that had actually broken cost a whopping, hang on to your hat, $8.89 and all the rest was labor. Turns out you have to take a chunk of the engine apart to get to this thing. Now, I don’t tell you that for your sympathy—oh no, God was very gracious in all of this. I’m sharing because there’s a lesson to be learned.
You see, the cost for the part was low—the labor to install the part was not. Labor often costs more than the part. That is true in car repairs and it is definitely true in Kingdom work. The actual cost of ministry, while not cheap is doable. The most important part of serving God is not the dollars but the man-hours—the doers. If we had just bought the part, the car wouldn’t have worked. Somebody had to sweat to get it installed and make a difference. Kingdom dollars are important, but getting our hands dirty, sweating some sweat, shedding some tears is where the real cost is—and where the real reward is.
It’s not only true about Kingdom work it is also true when we decide to do the opposite—to sin. The sin itself may seem like a bargain—bringing perhaps a little pleasure or a little satisfaction. But rarely is that the whole cost. In fact, I’m not sure it ever is. The Book says we can take it to the bank that our sin will find us out. That is found way back in the Old Testament in a story where some folks were making a commitment to do something and Moses just let them know if they didn’t keep their word it would come back and bite them.
How many times have we thought we could get away with something? You know, a little lie, a little lust, a little anger or jealousy and boom we find out that the little sin (which by the way is like a unicorn—it doesn’t exist) caused more damage that we ever imagined. And then we get the bill and ouch. Just remember this. Sin is never, ever, a bargain. I don’t care how attractive the package, it is a bad deal. Don’t walk—run away. The good news is the Book also says there is always a way to get away. Take it.
Well, an investment in Kingdom work is always a great thing. It is worth every cent and every drop of sweat. But sin—well, it is sure fire loser every time. And like the bill for the repair, the initial cost is just a drop in the bucket compared to the fallout. Now there is some good news. We have a God who not only can diagnose the problem—He can take care of it. There might still be consequences but He will never stop loving us because of it. His grace really is sufficient. So if you find yourself stranded beside the road of sin and consequences, give Jesus a call. He’s better than any roadside service. You rest in that. He’s got this.