This week only,** the ebook version of my new book, Walk with Me: Pilgrim’s Progress for Married Couples is available for free at all the major booksites. That’s great news–or is it?
A few days ago, friends and I gathered to celebrate the book’s launch.
When I told someone at the party about the free ebook, she wondered why the publisher would do this. I understood her concern. Why would they give away a new book for free if they could make money from it? After all, that’s the way the world works. We invest our time, labor, and resources into a product; and then we sell it for as much as the market will bear.
What’s the catch?
So if I hear that something is being given away for free, I tend to be skeptical. A free deal sounds too good to be true and I wonder if there’s a catch somewhere.
Is it a bait and switch where the worm on the fish hook starts as a free meal and ends up being a last supper?
Does the product have little or no value to begin with? Or is it defective?
Was the company was overly optimistic about sales and now has to get rid surplus inventory?
What is free going to cost me?
Here’s something else to consider: Though I am naturally cheap, thrifty, and bargain-loving, I pass up free deals all the time. I turn down a good couch someone no longer needs. I say no to tickets to a concert a friend can’t go to. I’ve even let free ebook offers expire without downloading the book.
Why? Because even something free comes with an expectation that I’ll use it. After all, that’s the purpose of a gift. The tie is meant to be worn, no matter how garish it looks. The fruitcake is supposed to be eaten [or at least regifted]. The free ebook is meant to be read, then mentioned to a friend and given a review on Amazon.
God’s free deal
Here’s what God offers us for free:
His body broken for us,
and then His Spirit, through whom He pours His love into our hearts [Romans 5:5]
which results in:
a whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! [Romans 6:22 The Message]
adoption into the royal family [Ephesians 1:5]
a heavenly inheritance [I Peter 1:4]
That is quite a deal.
And there’s no catch.
The gift is not defective.
It’s precious and valuable [the sacrificial death of the Son is as costly as it gets.]
There’s no bait and switch [That’s Satan’s specialty].
This free gift to me is not so much costly as it is life-changing. To receive it, I have to give up one of two things:
Either the so-called freedom that destroys freedom [Romans 6:16]**
or rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion [Galatians 2:20]**
So what does God want in return?
If God just wanted our allegiance, He would have offered us the kingdoms of this world as Satan did with Jesus.
But what He wanted was a restored relationship with us. The Message translation of Ephesians 1 and 2 is such a wonderful meditation on this, that I’m tempted to quote the whole thing . Instead, I’ll just encourage you to read it yourself, and then spend some time appreciating the glories of our undeserved gift.
And the more I reflect on what God has given to me, the more I can’t decide what the best part is:
That I didn’t have to earn it?
That it doesn’t wear out?
That it lasts forever?
That it opens the way to more gifts, like joy and peace?
That no one can take it away from me?
That I can share it with others?
That I have only begun to explore it’s delights?
What would you add to that list?
And do you think the best part is?
Notes and links
**Romans 6:16 Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly.You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. [The Message]
**Galatians 2:20 Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? [The Message]