There is a cost to every action on our part - nothing really is free. There are many advertisements for "free" stuff in this world, but if you have ever clicked on one of those offers on the computer, you know you are prompted to enter your email, cell phone number, or some other identifier. When you do so, you are inundated with SPAM or junk mail galore. The cost of the "free" stuff is really just more mess to deal with! Sometimes the cost is just not worth it, right? There is a "cost" to every luxury, but not all cost is known up front. If you buy a new car, complete with all the bells and whistles, you may think you are riding in style until the first time the electronic gizmo fails to work. When you take it into the shop for the repair, you might just get a little sticker shock over the cost of the repair! Those bells and whistles are nice, but ridiculously expensive to maintain! So it is with things in our relationships with each other, our supervisors, and even with God. There is a cost associated with every action - reasonable or not.
A dry crust eaten in peace is better than steak every day along with argument and strife. A wise slave will rule his master’s wicked sons and share their estate. Silver and gold are purified by fire, but God purifies hearts. The wicked enjoy fellowship with others who are wicked; liars enjoy liars. Mocking the poor is mocking the God who made them. He will punish those who rejoice at others’ misfortunes. An old man’s grandchildren are his crowning glory. A child’s glory is his father. Truth from a rebel or lies from a king are both unexpected. (Proverbs 17:1-7 TLB)
Cost is usually realized in what I am going to term "heart-expense". The heart is our entire emotional make-up along with our entire intellectual faculties. Now, we all know emotion and intellect don't always "mix" well. Sometimes they are like oil and vinegar - they just stay separated no matter how much you try to get them together! Most of the time, we end up with a "blend" of too much of one and not enough of the other. When emotions win out, the "heart-expense" may be costly because there comes unease, mistrust, disappointment, or the like. There may be an immediate emotional "high", but be assured - what goes up, eventually comes down. If we lean too much to the side of the intellect, we get so wrapped up in figuring out the right angle that we miss the salient point in the matter. Either way is just a little too costly in relationship - whether it is with a significant other, supervisor, or God himself.
God wants both our intellect and our emotions to be pure - to reflect his graces. We aren't to be emotionally driven - spending our emotions on this and that, but not really having anything but disappointment or fleeting enjoyment to show for our expenditure. God wants our emotions affected, but by his touch - not our pursuit of the magical thrill. The fact is, we have a lot of way of "spending" our heart's precious reserve - either emotionally or intellectually. Learning how we "spend" our heart's reserve is key to having balance in life.
Words and what we listen to can tells us a lot about our heart and how we are "spending" our resources:
- Spending our resources by listening to wicked talk is dangerous ground because we will find ourselves constantly pushing the limits or crossing the line in a moral sense. We need to be aware of the things we are listening to because of how much they play on our emotional reserve. If you have ever been caught up in a matter not your own, and really is not your business to be involved in, you will likely know how much this "costs" you emotionally. You get carried away by the thing which really belongs to another. In the end, you have invested a lot of emotion on something which never was yours to bear anyway.
- Paying attention to destructive words is also a huge "heart-expense" for us. If we read our passage carefully, we find liars enjoy the destructive words - maybe because they are intent on finding the next way to deceive themselves or others. Deceit is destructive - there is a cost to our heart and our intellect. The malicious intent of these words makes them so costly. They should be avoided at all cost.
- Engaging with the mocker puts you in a position of "spending" what you might just have needed in reserve to a future matter. Mockers give out insults and in turn, they are insulting not only the one who is the object of their focus, but those who engage with them will be caught up in the insult, as well.
- Words that reflect a rejoicing over some else's misfortune are also wrong. God looks for a sensitive and forgiving heart. We need to guard against rejoicing over the misfortune of another - that rejoicing can cost us emotional heartache because what we give out will eventually return to us down the road.
In respect to the "heart-expense" we should not consider too costly, we might just consider the "cost" of disregarding another person's faults. Yep, it costs us something from the "heart" - but it has tremendous yields for it preserves love. Pointing out faults can separate even the closest of friends, because enough fault-finding will deplete the "heart-account". We all have differences and we are well all served to "spend" our heart resources on accepting those differences, trusting God to handle what might need a little adjustment, and then using our "heart reserve" to preserve and build up another. Just sayin!