What Might Be Lost

Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (NRSV)

If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul—then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshiping them, for then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain and the land will yield no fruit; then you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.


By Chuck Griffin

When I was in college, I learned an important concept in economics class: “opportunity cost.”

Essentially, when we make decisions, we need to account for more than just the gain we believe we will experience by going in a particular direction. We also need to assess what we lose by not making an alternate choice.

As Forbes magazine once wrote, “It’s a core concept for both investing and life in general.”

It’s easy to analyze opportunity costs with hindsight. For example, a lot of us may have spent $10,000 or so on a nice little car or truck in 1997. We probably enjoyed driving our little cars and trucks.

We had another option, however—we could have instead bought $10,000 worth of Amazon stock in May of that year, when it was first publicly offered. In May of 2020, according to Investopedia, that stock would have been worth $12 million.

The problem, of course, is that none of us has clear information about the future, so it’s hard to guess what our opportunity cost for a particular decision is going to be. Don’t ask me for a loan. I bought the little car.

As we see in our Deuteronomy text, God did the Israelites a real favor. He laid out what would happen if they chose to love the Lord with all their hearts and souls, and what would happen if they chose to turn away from God and sin.

One choice promised a sort of paradise on earth. The other offered a miserable existence and widespread death. The opportunity cost of each choice was made clear. But even with all that clarity, they chose poorly.

God is gracious, of course. He presents the lesson in new ways. Now he presents it to us through Jesus Christ. Choosing to reconcile with God through Jesus actually offers us peace and joy in this life, and ultimately eternal life in the presence of God!

Sin often is attractive in the short-term, offering what we think we cannot live without. To combat sin, it helps to measure the opportunity cost of straying from God’s love and guidance. Ongoing joy and eternal life are a lot to lose.

Lord, may your Holy Spirit grant us a fuller and more complete picture of where our decisions lead us. Amen.

On Brevity and Eternity

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”


The psalter reading for today is actually much longer, but sometimes one verse really leaps out.

This one little verse also brings to mind other Bible verses about how short life can seem. For example, James 4:14: “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

Or 1 Peter 1:24: “As the Scriptures say, ‘People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades.'”

Having passed the age of 50 a few years ago, I’ve noticed how these verses become more poignant and pointed. Not that there are guarantees at any age—as a young reporter covering crime and disasters, I learned that life can be surprisingly fragile. We are blessed with each new day we receive.

It’s just that for me, anyway, crossing 50 made me more mindful of how quickly life goes by. Awareness of life’s brevity does bring a certain focus to the mind, and with focus there is the possibility of new wisdom.

Regarding that 1 Peter quote above: Pulled out like that, it lacks context. Peter is being much more hopeful than we might initially think.

Yes, earthly life seems to fly by, but Peter talks about the shortness of life in the context of being “born again.” He notes that the Christian life is rooted in the word of God—the divinely given message that declares Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior—and in doing so, he also uses the word “eternal.”

Through simple belief in the work of Christ on the cross, we who are fleeting fog or wilting flowers become something that can last forever.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of life, and for the great miracle of life extended into eternity. Amen.