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Seek the 'advantageous additions'

I have to admit to being a totally insecure individual when I was growing up. I thought nobody could every like me, that my life was always 'less than' someone else's, and that I needed to do or give things to get somebody to really like me. What a crock of lies that was! God made me complete with all kinds of wonderful character traits and yet I totally sold myself short. I just didn't think of myself as much of a 'bargain' when it came to relationships. In fact, I thought I'd have to really 'market' myself to get 'liked'. Truth be told, bargains are kind a neat thing! I have come across individuals in my lifetime that proclaim to be pretty awesome individuals, only to find out they lack a lot in the 'awesomeness' realm! What I found out is that what they proclaimed would be an 'advantageous addition' to my life by simply being in relationship with them was no real 'advantage' at all - the bargain was flawed! Sometimes we sell ourselves short - other times we promote ourselves at a little bit of an inaccurate descriptor! Remember this...made up 'bargains' are not really bargains at all!

Don't for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God — that's where your future lies. Then you won't be left with an armload of nothing. (Proverbs 23:17-18)

In relationships with each other, we need to remember a "bargain" is really not a "bargain" whenever it is like loading ourselves up with "armloads of nothing". We find we have been "sucked into" the frenzy of believing the "false claims" of the things portrayed outwardly, but there is something definitely quite different we come to see inwardly in that individual. We load ourselves up with all kinds of supposedly "good things" and "good relationships" in our lives - but we do it without truly thinking (in a frenzy - in a hurry - without attentive thought). We have a natural "bent" of comparing ourselves to others. We see another walk past us and in an instant, our minds go into the "processing mode" of analyzing how they are dressed, how their hair style fits their "look", and maybe even evaluating their other physical attributes (such as fat/skinny, tall/short, blemishes/perfect skin). In one quick glance, we form all kinds of opinions. It is like we have one of those infrared scanner devices in our mind's eye, passing each "subject" over it, registering the "coded" information we store in our brains, and then coming to a conclusion just as quickly.

The danger lies in the immediacy of how quickly we jump from our own place of contentment to envying others who "pass our scanners" with the "appearance" of having it all together! You know, if you have ever seen me on a 'perfectly put together' morning, you might even have come to this very conclusion about me! The conclusion that says, "There goes someone who has it all together." I hate to burst your impression of me, but I do NOT have it all together - rarely do I even reach the point of 'looking like' I have it all put together! I struggle with judging others, involving myself in conversations which would be better off not said, and being careless in so many choices, just to name a few of my not so 'bargain-like' behaviors and attitudes! None of us is above envying the carelessness of those who seem to have life by the horns - living by their own might. We just naturally jump to the conclusion they must "have it all together". The cold reality is those very individuals we envy are probably struggling terribly just beneath the surface! One who is without Christ is without hope. Although they may possess every physical attribute man considers worth having, they lack the one which assures them lasting peace, unending joy, and constantly renewed faith in hard times.

Soak yourself in God - wise words indeed. Why? Simply stated - one without Christ has no real hope for the future. Theirs is a life of "today" without any real sense of what tomorrow will bring - they seem to have all the 'advantages' of life today, but they lack the real advantage of what eternity could hold for them in Christ. One who rightly pursues Christ as the center of their life will not always know what circumstances tomorrow will bring, but they will know who holds them close as they venture into each new day. I wonder how many times we senselessly pursue armloads of nothing. If our arms are so packed with "nothing", when Jesus offers us "something", we have little room to accept his greater gift. It is only as we lay down the armloads of nothing that we are able to embrace the things of greatest worth that Christ desires to bestow upon us. It is not in how "full" one's arms are that we "judge" the greatness of an individual - it is the "load" those arms carry! Christ told us his "load" was light, unlike the armloads we amass in our frenzy of envy! One more thought - the armloads the careless rebels amass are acquired in haste. The armloads of blessing God gives are acquired in moments of stillness. Sometimes the greatest "load" we carry is the peace of having "offloaded" a burden we were never meant to carry in the first place! Just sayin!

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