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Cheap Joy

    Every shoe can only carry you a certain number of miles before it begins to give out. You can’t use them forever. At some point, the bottoms lose their design and go bald from the wear and tear of pounding pavement, the fabric begins to stretch and rip as well, the soles begin to flatten out and the arch support disappears. If you continue to work out in those shoes you risk discomfort and even injury. It’s at that point a running shoe experiences a magnificent metamorphosis, it transforms from exercise shoe to mowing shoe (at least at my house). 

    A few months back, my exercise shoes reached such a point, so I scoured the web for a short time in search of a brand new pair of running shoes. Much to my surprise, during my search I found a great deal! I found a pair in my regular brand for about half the price I would normally pay. So, without much thought I pounced and bought them. I forgot an important rule of the marketplace, “You get what you pay for.” 

    It took me a week to realize the mistake I’d made. The shoes was poorly made, cheaply made. The arch support was atrocious and the cushioning was terrible. That stuff doesn’t matter too much during everyday activity or even short periods of exercise, but it really matters when you run for distance. If you go for a long run in the wrong kind of shoes it’s awfully uncomfortable and possibly damaging. I realized I had to hang up the shoes or risk injury, so online I went seeking another pair. You get what you pay for. 

    There’s usually a pretty good reason stuff comes cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good sale just as much as the next guy. I hit up the Habitat Restore. I buy used. I’m not above picking stuff up off the side of the street if I think it’ll come in handy, but there’s a good reason stuff comes half-off. You get what you pay for. 

    That’s true in the American marketplace, but also in the spiritual marketplace. We all wake up every day wanting the same thing. We all want joy. We all want happiness. We all want to smile. Isn’t that true? Funny enough, God and Satan are both in the joy business. They both are offering happiness. They both are offering a way for us to smile. The question is whose product are you buying? You get what you pay for.

    You should know that Satan is selling happiness on the cheap. It doesn’t cost much to buy the smiles he sells. Your payment is to follow the lusts of your heart (James 1:15-16). “Pursue pleasure,” he says. “Do what makes you happy. If your heart lusts after something, anything, go after it. I’ll give you happiness. I’ll help you smile. You don’t have to worship me or anyone for that matter. You don’t have to do anything, really, but let your belly be your god.” That’s cheap joy, brothers and sisters. 

    But remember, it’s cheap joy. It’s joy that doesn’t last but for a moment. The addict smiles when he takes a hit, a drink, a look, but it lasts only for a few hours or maybe just a second. The adulterer feels exhilaration, but it’s cheap. It only lasts for moment. Cheap joy breaks like a three dollar flip-flop, and then it leaves you in a place worse than when you started. It leaves you in a place where joy is even harder to come by. You get what you pay for! 

    The joy God sells comes at a greater cost. We buy His joy when we let the words of the Holy Spirit rule our lives (Galatians 5:22). That means crucifying our passions and desires, bringing them in subjection to the inspired words of the Bible (Galatians 5:24). That’s expensive joy! 

    But remember you get what you pay for. It’s expensive because it is real. It is not a passing pleasure or a cheap thrill. It’s not a quick smile that will soon be replaced with a scowl. It is deep. It is abiding. It is real. It is inexpressibly pleasant (I Peter 1:8). Brothers and sisters, God is selling real happiness. It’s worth the price. Moses understood that.

    “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward...” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

    I know you want joy and happiness. I know you’re looking for it constantly because I am, too. Remember, you get what you pay for. And remember, the only reason real joy is even in your price range is because someone named Jesus already paid the portion you could never afford.