Have you ever left money on the table? I don’t mean literally. Sure it’s possible to walk out of your house and leave a wad of cash sitting on the kitchen table (yes, I’ve done it). But what about figuratively?
I didn’t understand that was even possible until I discovered a little something grown-ups like to call a 401K. I’m very fortunate to have a job that provides a 401K for me, along with matching contributions at a really competitive rate. The first time I heard someone talking about “leaving money on the table” was in discussion on how much of a percentage to automatically contribute from a bi-weekly paycheck to my 401K. Because my company matches a certain percentage, the 401K people encourage us to put as much into the account as possible… otherwise we won’t be getting the most advantage out of the amount the company is willing to contribute. You’re leaving money on the table.
It’s the same when you don’t haggle over the price of something. Like in a Mexican market some place. Normally folks will charge you way more than what the item is actually worth, expecting you to haggle the price down. If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table because you’re giving away money that the seller might have been willing to live without.
It’s not a smart thing to do. But I’m pretty sure it happens fairly often.
So what about leaving a gift unopened? Have you ever done that? Has someone ever given you a gift that you didn’t open? Imagine Christmas morning, sitting around a tree stuffed full of presents and nobody opening them. Imagine a birthday party where you don’t open your gifts.
Would that be awkward or is it just me?
Today’s verse is John 14:27.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Did you know that God has given us gifts? He’s given us all sorts of gifts, too many to name. The trouble with many of them is that they’re gifts we can’t open yet. They’re promises that haven’t come true. It’s like knowing that Christmas is coming and that someone is going to get you a gift, but you haven’t seen it yet.
But the biggest mistake Christ-followers make is thinking that all of God’s gifts are like that, when they aren’t. God has given us many, many gifts that He wants us to open now! But for some reason, we’re just letting them sit in the corner.
A good example? Peace. God has given you the gift of peace. Did you know that?
What is the gift of peace? It’s the ability to stop worrying. It’s the reassurance that God is in control. It’s the guarantee that even though life may suck right now, it won’t always, and that God is strong enough to bring beauty out of ashes.
Peace. Peace of mind. Peace of heart. It’s priceless. Invaluable. And if you believe in Christ, God’s already given it to you. Is that a gift you’ve opened yet?
I’m not sure what it is about peace that is so hard to grasp. I struggle with peace a lot because I’m just a control freak. I want to know everything about everything so I can control every possible detail, whether I’m capable of it or not.
But the more I control something, the more I worry about it. The more I worry about it, the less peace I have. And the less peace I have, the farther away from God I grow because I convince myself that He doesn’t care because if He cared, why doesn’t He help me?
A foolish, vicious cycle.
God has given you peace. Period.
But just because He gave it to you doesn’t mean you’ve automatically accepted it. You have to choose to accept it. Just like you have to choose to accept a gift. Just because someone gives you a Christmas present, doesn’t mean you accept it. Just because you open a Christmas present doesn’t mean you’re going to keep it. You might take it back to the store and return it.
That’s the trick with a gift. Its mere existence doesn’t mean you use it. You have to choose it.
God won’t force you to accept any of His gifts, but if you won’t take them, what’s the point of Him giving them in the first place?
So the next time you’re worrying about something, remember that God has given you the gift of peace, and it’s your choice whether to accept it or not.