So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:16-17 NLT
I love finding treasures buried in the back corner of a store at 90% off or hidden in a packed clothing rack marked 75% off! But when seeking a bargain online, there always seems to be a catch. When I was younger, I fell victim to companies advertising CDs; on sale 10 for $5 or children’s books; on sale 5 for $10, only to discover I had committed to a year’s subscription. I still fall for those offers as I click on the social media posts picturing beautiful dresses for only $9.99. Most recently, it was a gorgeous wreath for only $29.99. But once again, I was disappointed.
On this occasion, I failed to read the fine print- not all as pictured or approximate size 15” diameter. Yes, I was entirely deceived by the attractive image and enticed to purchase the beautiful wreath pictured above. I thought I had done my homework and scoured out all the details. I checked the front door daily for the arrival of my purchase. Unfortunately, it seemed to take a bit longer than I expected.
One day, my husband walked in with the mail and said, “You received a package.” Bewildered about what it could be, I opened the 12” by 12” mailing envelope. I had been swindled. I pulled out a scraggly, plastic wreath (pictured below). The only things this wreath had in common with the one I thought I was receiving were one tiny, blessed sign and a hidden one-inch cheetah ribbon.
I felt foolish. Once again, I fell into the trap of temptation for the bargain offered. Did I want to blame someone, of course! Was I deceived? Certainly! The product I received wasn’t anything like the pictures. I did take successful action to obtain a refund through a series of emails, photos, and complaints. But I learned my lesson. When seeking a bargain online, do your research, read the small print, and always remember, buyer, beware!
The Bible has many examples of deceptive deals too good to be true. First, Eve is deceived by the serpent to eat the apple in hopes of being like God. Next, Isaac is deceived by Jacob to receive the birthright that was rightfully Esau’s. Then Jacob is deceived by Laban when he is tricked into marrying Leah, requiring him to work 7 more years for Rachel. And that’s only a few from the first 30 chapters of Genesis!
Many of us are susceptible to falling for a deceptive offer. Even in our walk with Christ, we can believe false promises. In the three synoptic gospels, Jesus warns the disciples right before Judas betrays him, “Watch out that you are not deceived. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them,” Matthew 24:4, Mark 13:5, and Luke 21:8.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. He never changes and will never leave you or deceive you. He is the real deal, and His grace is a free gift.
Forgive me when I fall for false promises, easy fixes, deceptive temptations, or a stray in the wrong direction. Help me to focus on You, Lord. Help me to hear your voice and claim your gifts of salvation, strength, peace, and more. Amen