By John W. Hanson
In fiction, Tom Sawyer was crafty enough to get his comrades to give him their treasures for a chance to help whitewash his Aunt Polly’s fence. In history, Dutch colonist, Peter Minuit was credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the native Americans in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders, in 1626. Both of these transactions turned out to be great deals. In real life, many readers may have first entered the marketplace of bargaining when they pulled something out of their lunch box, turned to a classmate and said, “Trade ya.”
To oversimplify life, everything is a trade out. We give our time and skills to our employer for a paycheck. We give time and commitment to our friends and family in order to be a part of their lives. We pledge monthly payments for the use of a house or a car. We take the time and effort to shower in order to enjoy good hygiene. We adjust our diet in hopes of maintaining good health. We trade.
Then, usually through painful experiences, we learn that there are those who are eager to swindle us… to get us to make a bad trade. We find out there are no free lunches and that you get what you pay for. We learn the odds are against us when it comes to things like carnival games, cheap furniture and the lottery. In short, wise people learn when to not to make the trade.
Life affords all of us some things that are too valuable to trade. They are priceless things that we can all attain and hold on to no matter our culture, economic status, intellect or abilities. They are so prized that the enemy of our souls makes it his business to steal and to destroy these assets. Using tools such as the world system, jealousy, fear, public opinion, and peer pressure, the enemy will try to get us to trade:
• Real, fulfilling intimacy for cheap sex
• Character for popularity
• A sound mind and healthy brain for drugs and alcohol
• Truth for a convenient philosophy
• Selflessness for narcissism
• A genuine relationship with God for religion
But, as the greatest teacher who ever lived once said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NLT) As Thanksgiving Day approaches I am reminded of all the important things I have been given and that only I can trade away. This is the time of year I will savor the best things in life; things like integrity, morality, civility, community and honesty. Whenever I perceive that something or someone is bidding for these treasures , I will stiffen my resolve and respond, ” I would’t trade ya – not for the whole world.”