Trade-Offs, Pay-Offs, and Rip-Offs

Trade-Offs, Pay-Offs, and Rip-Offs
Tony Cooke

Tony Cooke articleLife is full of trades. When you were a kid in the school lunchroom, you may have traded your peanut butter sandwich for someone else’s bologna and cheese. Maybe you traded your Willie Mays baseball card for someone else’s Hank Aaron card.

When a person goes to work, he trades his time and energy for a paycheck. Then he trades some of that paycheck for housing costs, food expenses, etc. When a person makes a trade-off, it’s because he anticipates a pay-off. He expects something of value in return. We engage in a trade-offs because we see something else as being necessary to our well-being and as greater value than what we currently have. We want a good pay-off, not a bad rip-off.

When a people bring their tithes and offerings to church, they’re making a trade-off for a pay-off. I’m not saying they’re only “giving to get,” but they believe the work of the church is worth their support… they believe in the mission of the church, and they also expect God to bless their giving.

Around the age of ten, I was on a vacation with my family and we stopped at a Stuckey’s… one of those roadside stores. They had a vending machine there, and inside that machine was a beautiful pocket knife. It looked so good, and I talked my parents into giving me the money to get one. I put the coins in, and what came out was a far cry from the one in the display case. Instead of that classy pocket knife, what came out was a cheap strip of dull tin in the shape of a knife with two plastic strips stuck on it to make up a handle. I was so disappointed, and I felt the sting of that rip-off for some time.

The fact of the matter is that there are both good trade-offs and bad trade-offs in this world. When we trade with God, it always results in a great pay-off. When we trade with Satan, it always results in a bad rip-off—he always has a bait-and-switch. The key to a successful life is learning to make good trade-offs.

Adam and Eve are an example of a couple that was involved in a trade-off! In Genesis 3:6 we read: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

Eve participated in this trade-off because she saw what she thought was going to be a great pay-off. She thought that accepting the serpent’s offer would make her better (like God), but she ended up trading innocence and right-standing with God for spiritual death and all of its deadly offspring. Her pay-off ended up being a rip-off!

Esau is another Bible character who made a trade-off that ended up being a rip-off. Issac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau was the firstborn son, and as such, had the birthright. What did this mean?

  1. He was to have succeeded Isaac as head of the family. This was to give him authority and superiority over the rest of the family. He would have become the priest and the chieftan over the family.
  2. He would inherit a double share, a double portion of the estate.
  3. In his particular case, the birthright included the promise of future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah. Holding this birthright would place him in the ancestral line of the Messiah.

When Esau came in from the field, he was famished and sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. Genesis 25:34 (NEB) says, “Thus, Esau showed how little he valued his birthright.” Esau had something that was of enormous value, but he did not value it; he despised his birthright. He craved something that would bring him immediate gratification but long-range heart-ache.

Esau’s trade-off and rip-off had long-term consequences. Hebrews 12:16-17 (NLT) says, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”

In cautioning against the immoral woman, Solomon warned his son against a terrible trade-off: “Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel” (Proverbs 5:9, KJV). The short-range pleasure of sin is never worth the long-term sorrow it brings!

Wise People Make Good Trade-Offs

Paul had achieved much in his pre-Christian life, but he made a great trade-off that resulted in an outstanding pay-off! In Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT), Paul said, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him…”

Paul traded…

  1. His prestigious reputation in exchange for Christ’s purchased righteousness
  2. His status in society in exchange for service in Christ’s Kingdom
  3. The praises of men in exchange for the praises of God
  4. His accomplishments in exchange for Christ’s assignment
  5. His personal past in exchange for his future in Christ

The world may have said that Paul “traded down,” but Paul knew that he had “traded up.” John Maxwell once did a message entitled, “You’ve Got to Give Up to Go Up,” and that principle is true in so many areas.

The Entire Redemption Process is One Big Trade-Off

What happened on Calvary was a great trade-off with an amazing pay-off! Jesus took our sin, our sickness, our poverty, and the curse. He traded all that He had and all that He was to take the punishment that we deserved. You can read about what He traded for in Philippians 2:5-11. We benefitted as well, and God invites every person to trade…

  1. The spiritual death that we inherited in Adam for the spiritual life that is in Christ
  2. Despair for hope
  3. Worry for peace
  4. Fear for faith
  5. The works of the flesh for the fruit of the spirit

When you accept God’s plan and God’s will for your life, you are trading your plan for His plan, and your will for His will. Your flesh may think that’s a terrible sacrifice, but it’s the greatest, wisest thing you can ever do with your time, your energies, your talents,  and your treasures.

Kenneth Hagin once said, “It doesn’t cost to obey God and dedicate your life to Him. It pays! It will cost you not to obey God. It may cost you in dollars and cents. It may cost you sickness, disease, and premature death. It may cost you heartache and sorrow. But, oh, thank God, it’s so good over in the perfect will of God, where you’re fully surrendered, fully dedicated, fully submitted to His will! It’s just so much better to obey God than to disobey Him.”

May God give us wisdom as we make good trade-offs, experience rich pay-offs, and avoid bad rip-offs!